Time For Clipper Ship To Sail

***

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –  It’s been so long since the Clippers cashed in on their promise — or had promise to begin with — that sometimes even the smallest step gets magnified. Was Wednesday one of those times?

Yes, the Clippers finally beat a team of significance when they outlasted the Heat in overtime. It was a bigger game for the Clips than Miami, if only because Chris Paul and crew had something to prove, not only to the league and the starry crowd that limo’d in for the game, but to themselves. The season was rather mundane until now; they’d lost to the Spurs, Bulls and Blazers and desperately needed a pelt to put on the wall. Well, that stuffed LeBron head and D-Wade scalp will look awfully nice in the den.

Of course, the Clippers’ work is only beginning. They’ll fill out the month with games just as meaty, starting Saturday with the Lakers, and then: Dallas, Wolves, Lakers again, Nuggets and Oklahoma City. We’ll all have a better idea of this team then, and how much Paul’s addition is helping. You see, that’s the challenge of trying to elevate yourself from decent team to contending team. That stairwell can be quite oily. One big win doesn’t make for a celebration. Maybe in the past, it did. Not now. The Clippers are beyond that, or so it seems, all because of CP3 came along and raised expectations.

I’d say the Clippers are definitely intriguing, and in spurts do have the look of greatness, but they still need to demonstrate it over a longer stretch. And they’ll have that chance. In the meantime, they can’t afford many if any sloppy losing streaks if they want to be taken seriously by the basketball world. Good teams find a way, even when they don’t look too sharp.

Anyway, Bill Plascke of The Los Angeles Times is pretty much a believer:

Lob City became Mob City.

The Clippers hugged, their fans bounced, the rafters roared, the entire Staples Center danced as one late Wednesday in a coming-out party for the city’s hottest new star.

Lordy, what a show.

In what could mark their first official step toward their promise of greatness, the Clippers grunted and ground and eventually soared atop their expectations in a 95-89 victory over a Miami Heat team that is considered the NBA’s best.

“Very intense,” said Blake Griffin afterward with a very relieved, very sweaty grin.

Intense and immense, the game featured an extended Heat lead until the Clippers fought back late and withstood repeated attacks from the great LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to force an extra period.

At which point, the Clippers potential reached reality in one giant alley-oop of an overtime, the white-shirted, wild-eyed home team holding the Heat to one-for-10 shooting while finishing them with an array of jumpers, layups, and DeAndre Jordan‘s clinching dunk.

Of course there would be a clinching dunk.

And here’s another view from True Hoop, which raises the important question of defense and whether the Clippers can play it consistently enough to be a serious threat:

Have the Clippers turned the corner on their defensive issues? A bit, perhaps, though there’s almost certain to be some recidivism going forward. The combination of raw youth and creaky veterans virtually guarantees as much. And that’s probably why the Clippers remain cautious about setting goals.

“I think if you get too caught up in the results, I think you forget about the process,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Then I think you miss things and I don’t think you can be as good as you can be if you do it that way.”

The Clippers want to see some refinement before they figure out if they’re a title-chasing team in earnest, or merely consolidating in preparation for something bigger next season when they’ll have a season under the belt and the opportunity to address the deficiencies on their roster.

Across the way outside the Miami locker room, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra explained the hazards of setting wholesale goals, especially with a newly assembled team, an exercise he’s well-versed in.

“The thing that nobody wants to hear is that it takes time in this league,” Spoelstra said. “Even if you can put a lot of talent and a lot of pieces that you think naturally fit together, it takes time. Very rarely in this league are you able to put together a team with a lot of new players and to immediately succeed. [The Clippers] have done very well. They’ve gotten off to a great start.”

What will be interesting is how the Clippers proceed with mostly a point-guard loaded backcourt. It makes for great lob passing, no doubt; Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have the highlights to show for it. But can the Clippers defend well enough with Paul, Chauncey Billups and Mo Williams getting most of the minutes?

Also, don’t forget how the Clippers’ nucleus is still fairly new. And when you consider most of the new bodies are handling the ball, well, it’s a process. Paul and Billups are still getting to know Griffin and Jordan and the rest, in terms of how and when to deliver the ball. Because Paul and Billups are savvy and happen to be pretty good, they’ll master this quicker than most. Still, the process continues. Look how long it took for the Big Three in Miami to mesh last year. Remember how the sky fell when the Heat started 9-8?

Looking ahead, here’s what would make for a smooth transition for the Clippers from curiosity to contender:

They beat the Lakers at Staples Center in a few days and stake their claim for Occupy LA. Cause you know Kobe Bryant has had it up to here with talk of the Clippers being the best team in town.

Jordan begins to develop an offensive game outside the paint, because you can’t survive on dunks alone. This might not totally happen this season; still, the big fella could use a baby hook or mid-range jumper to make him less predictable. Griffin was much the same as a rookie, and now he’s beginning to stretch his range a bit.

Caron Butler keeps knocking down open jumpers. He’ll have a few of those every game, because of the Clippers’ inside game and also because of two point guards on the floor.

Finally: defense, more like the kind the Clippers played against Miami, which shot four-for-12 in the fourth quarter.

Griffin said:

“It’s about winning these games and winning the so-called smaller games because that’s what puts your franchise in a winning position.”

Get it? Just win, Clippers, and those pre-season projections of possible greatness just might be realized. Thursday was a step in that direction, but as we know, the finish line is well in the distance, even in a shortened season.

***

87 Comments

  1. charles says:

    I think the key question is “who is under performing?” Chris Paul is Chris Paul. He doesn’t know how to play at top form. Griffin is the same. Butler is having a good year and so is Billups. DeanDre Jordan is having a so so year though. He needs to stop focusing on lob city and start delivering some serious defense. I’m not talking about just blocks. I’m talking about REBOUNDS, blocks, shots missed simply because of his presence. He is not manning the middle like a contender needs the middle to be manned. Other than Moe Williams, they need a seventh and eighth man off the bench as well. They should seriously think about some trades if they want to compete this year. One possibly is JR Smith who will be back in February. He is a bit unorthadox, but he is exceptionally talented and with the steady leadership of Paul, Billups and Butler in the backcourt he could be a real pick me up and potentially the key ingredient if the Clippers want to go from a playoff team to a true contender.

  2. Heat Suck says:

    @LOL STFU your a complete IDIOT the heat will never win a ring with that choke artist #1 Lechoke Shames FYI Heat owners get rid of him he will continue to choke under the pressure LBJ Sucks!!!!!

  3. Sam Clipper says:

    THE CLIPPERS WILL BE THE 2012 NBA CHAMPS 4-3 OVER THE HEAT IN MIAMI. REMEMBER THIS!!!!

  4. Bill says:

    “We lost it, more than THEY won it!” The perennial cliche’d cry of the losers.

    • LOL says:

      Naw not when its actually true. Im pretty sure the last time I checked, a player cannot guard another player shooting free throws.

      And its ok Bill, we all know you’ve used it also.

  5. kjavis says:

    Why are there so many comments about the Heat, they screwed themselves by missing many free throws in a tight game nuff said. Now my team the Clippers, look great on paper and a world of potential but so far there is some serious fundamental issues that need to be resolved before this team becomes a real contender. They are one of the worst teams in free throws and rebounds, when 2 of your starters are shooting 50-60% from the line that is going to be a disability down the stretch. Their offense has a lot to be desired, too much 1v1 and then shoot type stuff, Griffin has got to stop spinning pump fake spin the other way it’s all to obvious and ez for the defense and too many long shots, he is just not a shooter as evident by his free throw %. DJ has to bring more to his game than just dunks, pretty much a non factor in the offense. The bench is horrible, other than Mo and Foye the rest contribute zero when they come in especially Cooke has he even hit a 3pt this season and that is his specialty. I want to see these guys do well but it has been pretty ugly basketball so far.

  6. Chris says:

    “As the Clippers have yet to fully understand, a win over the Heat does not an NBA contender make”

    Is Yoda writing for nba.com now?

  7. jebbbig says:

    the clippers will be Thunder struck.

  8. kickback says:

    reminds me of the NO Hornets days of paul and chandler

  9. xcmike says:

    I love clipper nation and I just wanted to say that without Caron Butler, the Clips wouldn’t be the great team they aspire to be. Butler is the glue to their whole team, knocking down bail-out jumpers and racking up a good amount of points in these past few games. Lob City!!!!

  10. ddddd says:

    Ok first things first…. Regardless whether the refs sucked or didn’t suck or whether Lebron choked or what…. It is a W for the Clips. Lebron has the talent to dominate the clips, he just isn’t smart enough to figure out how to use it yet. Lets see what happens come playoff time. This is just a meaningless pride-statement game at the beginning of the season. Give this one to the clips…. They did well. It is the same concept of giving the Nov 24 2010 game that the magic played against the heat to the magic. It was an early season win that meant nothing in the grand scheme of things as the heat reached the finals. Lets see if Lebron figures it out before the playoffs start. Lets see what comes out of the Clips. 10 games in is not a end all judge all. On the other hand I wonder if there wont be a OKC-LAC WCF this year…. A stretch sure but still something to think about as pretty much everyone in the West with a couple exceptions are severely underachieving. (injuries, FA, out of shape, etc.)

  11. Gabriel says:

    LAC have a fine team. Probably better than LAL. CP3 is trully amazing and, if the LAL deal was allowed, LAL would be my absolute favs for this year ring. Griffin keep getting better, CP3 controls the whole game, Billups gives a lot of stability and experience and, of course, Deandre Jordan is an absolute monster. One final note for Lebron disgrace from the free throw line and, one again, chocked (Wade too) 2 or 3 times has he could give Miami the lead but always missed.

    • LOL says:

      Right, right. Because no player has ever had a bad free throw shooting night. Kobe Bryant has had plenty, along with his shotjacking career of an abysmal 44 to 45 fg%

  12. LOL says:

    cool story bro

  13. Heywood Jablomey says:

    Sad.
    Lebron needs to retire now.

  14. Men put Terrier in the floor and Pittman…By the way was too exciting coach Spo finally catharsis at the end of the 4 quarter. WTF!!!!!! (T-FOUL) good.

  15. a win is a win Lebron struggling against the clipps nothing new he averages 20 points a game in his career against the clips lowest average aginst any team in the nba, This just shows the clips can hang with any team and have a chance to win at the end I understand everybody underestimating the clips all they need is to prove themselves this is another step in the right direction oh yeah and the writer of this column they did beat the blazers the first time around so its not only the heat that are a quality team and the warriora are pretty stout at home and have beatin quality teams.

  16. Larian1983 says:

    I am a Lakers fan living in S. Cal. I liked the clippers and wished them good, and I liked the duo of Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin. However, the CP3 trade completely changed my view about this franchise. They basically stole CP3 from the Lakers. Why do I say that? Because first of all, the Clippers backed out of the deal initially because the price Stern asked was too steep, Eric Gordon and the unprotected #1 pick is hell of a price to pay. However, as soon as the Clipper heard that the Lakers tried to get back into the CP3 deal, they went back and accepted the deal with the only difference of Eric Bledso. Now come on man, Clippers, you guys rather have 5 points guards and have some of them playing shoot guards, ridiculous strategy, and never will I rule for the Clippers again.

    • LOL says:

      Your a lakers fan. Your a good one to talk about “stealing” players. Aint so fun when it doenst go YOUR way for YOUR team huh? Yeah thats what i thought.

  17. The Clippers are what the Heat were last year, a new squad of superstars. Just like the Heat the Clippers will probably to the finals this year but probably lose to a more experienced team i.e. the heat = )

  18. Really! says:

    @ Frankie! The referees stole the game from the Heat? Lebron James was put on the line by the referees and could have won the game! He just missed the free throw! Man i’m dying here at all these excuses! Cant anyone give the Clippers some credit!

  19. Bignate says:

    Look everyone needs to understand that the heat lost because the clips out played them. A loss is a loss but your a fool if you think the clips win over the heat makes them an elite team. The heat already earned their stripes as an elite team last year clips are just trying to reach that status.

  20. Hawks Fan says:

    Last night games means shhh really…I mean clippers one, They played good D, sent a person who was shooting bad from free throw line to the free throw line…Enough said…Hopefully it will give them confidence to jus become better…Heat cannot give up games like this in a shortened season. Is it jus me, or do these players not know that every games really counts…Mock my words, the playoff picture is going to come down to 1 to 2 game difference in the East and West and teams are gonna wish they didnt give up games by missing dumb free throws or dumb decsicions. My Hawks gave up two easy games, heat gave up two,…ITs goin to make a big difference in who u play in the playoffs…So teams as good as the heat need to stop giving up games…The bulls stole two or three games and are currently in first place in East because of it…So teams need to stop jerking around and ball…Watch teams have early playoff exits due to their matchup by giving up dumb wins…

  21. kick says:

    alot of money was involved in the game.

  22. kick says:

    they were paid to miss free throws.

  23. kkkkkkkk says:

    deebee,
    it is because the heat are idiots

  24. Chinchilla says:

    I dnt care about the heat’s. All i care about is how my boy cp3 torched them up yday. undisputed beat pg in the game

    • LOL says:

      cp3 isnt your “boy”. What are you on. Go back to whatever fantasy land you come from. CP3 didnt torch em. Heat didnt make free throws. Happens to the best of em. They live to win another day.

  25. Clip Nation says:

    “Yes, the Clippers finally beat a team of significance when they outlasted the Heat in overtime”

    Is Portland not significant???

  26. J says:

    to heat fans that think the clippers got lucky cuz lebron missed his FT:
    lebron probably only deserved a third of those FTs anyway. this is called ball dont lie

  27. Daniel says:

    No overtime required if the 6 step travel on lebron’s last play is called properly. When you have someone choking at the line like Lebron, you put them on the line, and the clippers did a great job of that.
    As a a long time clippers fan, this team still has a long way to go before they prove anything. If they can’t beat the lakers saturday, then this win didn’t mean much.

  28. Lebron is the Problem says:

    I think the only problem the Heat has right now is Lebron, Wherever team he is that team cannot win championships, get rid of Lebron and you’ll start winning championships.

  29. Tu madre Heat says:

    Heat is the best team in the league but still no crown or championship with the big 3, so what’s the point to have the best team if you can’t win s.h.i.t.

    • LOL says:

      Well lets see I’m pretty sure unless the Mavs are your team, that the Heat finished BETTER than your team .

      blahahahaha

  30. Clipper24 says:

    Ok im a Clipper fan(hence the name) But i was kinda disappointed in them against the Heat. Chris Paul had to take that game over cause without him doing so no one was stepping up. While Blake is a awesome talent he is too comfortable with trying to dunk on everybody. While you can debate about Miami missing the free throws, you also have to take in consideration that some calls didnt get called and some calls were made that were bogus. Another thing people dont look at is how you set your offense up. If you go back and look at the game everytime CP3 has the ball everyone else is just standing around not doing anything. Blake keeps throwing his hand up wanting a lob but CP3 has an amazing basketball IQ and will only throw it up when he knows it will actually go in. Defense is another issue, they are not a defensive minded team and again its only 8 games into the season for us so we havent really had time to gel and reach our potential. Miami found out last year you cant win off of names alone you need to have a team effort

  31. swagflu says:

    the heat blows..lebron is the exact definition of what a choke artist is. The best player in the league??? HAHAHA I can’t help but crack up when ppl say that..how can you be the best player in the league when you are not even the best player on your team? Dwade is miami’s closer. Lebron does nothing when the game is on the line. He has proven throughout his career that he is constantly invisible when his team needs him most just like the finals last june. He claims he’ll win 8 championships? Buddy will be lucky to win one, Until then he’ll just continuously disappear when its crunch time and continue to miss crucial free throws like he has so many times throughout his career. Hellaaaa best player in the league

  32. Frankie says:

    I’m neither a heat fat or clipper fan. But clearly was a heat game, referees stole the game for the clippers with those late quarter bad calls

  33. chris says:

    lol take over los angeles? is LA just a bunch of bandwagoners?????

  34. deebee says:

    why is chalmers guarding griffin in the first place?

    • joe says:

      Exactly. Im a heat fan, but chalmers decisoin making on defence isn’t all that great. Tthat, and he commits stupid fouls.
      Miami – get to that free throw line in your next practive and workout it out!
      Also, little concerning that this is their 3rd (or 4th?) OT game in the last couple of weeks. They NEED to close out games

  35. Superstarss says:

    Clippers have inside game and are very strong at the guard spot both weaknesses of the miami team this is a hell of a matchup close game could have gone either way

    • LOL says:

      say what? u dont even deserve to post . The guard spot is a weakness of the Heat? Just what are you on right now? The Heat have the best 2 guard in the NBA right now in Wade. Wow. Put the pipe down

      • Law064 says:

        @LOL it’s clear your a bandwagon heat fan stop complaining about this and that oh yeah your heat lost again so make excuses for that. Maybe because Wade left the game smh Phoney heat fans are sooo funny if we are just stating facts we are haters lol I love you bandwagon fans

    • QuestionMark says:

      The Clippers are like last year’s Dallas team, great all around starting team, CP3, Foye, Butler, Griffin and Jordan, though they don’t have what Dallas had, depth and Dirk Nowitzki.

  36. Randall says:

    OH GO CLIPPERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  37. Law064 says:

    Clearly a travel on lebron, but the heat lost again and yes they really sucked from the FT line allowing the Clips to win. I don’t really need to hear the fact that the heat beat themselves cause you have to give the opposing team credit. Good game from the clips and another break down from Miami.

    • LOL says:

      yea but Heat lost it more than Clips won. they will be good but is not their time yet

      • Law064 says:

        @LoL go cry a river dude face it the heat lost weather they blew the game cause they choked or the other team converted when it was needed. Just stop with the excuses they lost

      • LOL says:

        @law064

        Go cry a river hater lol. Its funny cause Ive read you on here many times saying your team LOST it and didnt convert in last minutes. But thats just for YOUR team(s) right law? hahaha

        Its no excuse. Its just a fact. And you haters just keep on hating. Its ok

  38. nbafan says:

    It happens , but you have to say the heat def lost because of their free throws…just bad i was watching the game like wow..but it happens. Still an early season, rather get these things out the way now. Alot of turnovers too. Bad call when Deandre Jordan goal tended the ball. Cant leave it to the refs though not in this league or any league.

  39. Moses says:

    Clippers arent taking over LA. when Clippers win more championships than Lakers than you can say they are taking over LA. im a Clippers fan but they have alot to prove before they can say Clippers are taking over LA, Last night was a very intense game. Miami lost cause of poor shooting and good defence by the Clippers. Everyone needs to stop trying to give Miami excuses of “why” they lost.

    • sbfern805 says:

      Amen!!! Someone that understands!!! Yes Clippers cannot take over Lakers Land…they have to prove to be worthy of taking it over. Same way goes for Miami to be considered the best….They have to win championships to prove it!!! So all you Heat fans should not say the Heat are the best until the they win the championship because its simply not true! So come back and make those comment in lets say 3,or 4, or 5, or 6, or 7, or 8 years…bahahhaha!… and they we can put you bandwagon fans together and make an ESPN Special calling it…”a year after Lebron retires, the Heat finally win Championship”!!

  40. artu says:

    no excuses the heat lost face it theyre not immortal

  41. Fact says:

    Overconfidence of Miami Heat by not practicing shooting free throws and get ahead of themselves that they always can shoot free throws guess that those muscles on the arms got the best of them. Even Chauncey Billups and Ray Allen are always practicing shooting free throws despite being accurate.

    Coach Chief shouldn’t have complained and get ejected himself in the later part of the game with Los Angeles Clippers already had the game on their hands (Everyone in the team should behave and stop arguing, that would be good in a long run). Well Rick Carlisle’s ejection sparked the Dallas Mavericks and end up beating Boston Celtics.

    Los Angeles Clippers victory shouldn’t make them get confident as well and treat every game as if very important to make a stand in the NBA.

  42. Mamba says:

    Kobe is waiting…..

  43. Really! says:

    I stand corrected on my spelling! Clippers I mean!

  44. Really! says:

    I love how the Heat fans always say the other team was lucky when they get beat! The Cliopers beat the Heat because they played better! Period! Make all the excuses you want! Lol!

    • LOL says:

      Right right..and we love how your always around just when they lose a game here and there. Cause you know..your team is perfect and all and never loses a game lol

  45. lafan says:

    nice travel lebron to take game into OT so forget the excuses heat lost clips won done and done

  46. didyouguysevenwatch says:

    Miami lost bad reffing gave them a chance and they lost again!

  47. didyouguysevenwatch says:

    Heat Fan
    January 12, 2012 at 10:40 am
    ur lottery team is lucky if King James had made that last 3 FT, it could have bee Miami’s win. sometimes luck is on lottery teams side

    Seriously did you watch???? The foul Lebron got for his last FT’s He straight travelled he took his steps jumped and jumped again??? Remember when your a kid UPS AND DOWNS!!!!!!!!

  48. Heat Fan says:

    ur lottery team is lucky if King James had made that last 3 FT, it could have bee Miami’s win. sometimes luck is on lottery teams side

    • suck it heat says:

      its not luck. lechoke just came out again

      • Sparck Valentine says:

        Agreed 100%.
        If more proof is needed that LeBron will miss when under pressure, you’re certainly a diehard Heat’s fan. Trade LeBron and get Superman, and see them NBA titles going your way. Only, I hope they don’t do that (they won’t anyway) ’cause I wanna see the Clippers winning! XD

      • Mo says:

        first i would like to say that im a heat fan and i wont say a word against you heat haters…all i can say is just sit back, kick your feet up the table, and watch..HEAT FOR CHAMPIONSHIP

      • Matt says:

        Yo “Suck it Heat”: Still not over the decision? haha how’s cleveland? with those 2 buildings lol “we’re not detrooiiiit”

    • youre an idiot says:

      youre an idiot

    • alienboy says:

      but still the point is those freethrows did not happened. What’s the point of talking about it? Its not luck, Clippers outwitted them in basketball and lebron & wade failed to make those important freethrows.

    • shhh says:

      c’mon! you’re team lost, period.
      clips may be lucky but the heat played bad.
      let it go and win another day.

  49. LOL says:

    This was an entertaining game yes. But the Heat lost this game alot more than the Clippers won. VERY uncommon to shoot 58% free throws. Lebron was hitting at an 80% clip this year so far, and just shot them horribly tonight. Free throws were quite simply the difference in the game. The Heat also missed plenty of open jumpers in the 4th. Who knows if there was fatigued involved from last night’s ot loss to the Warriors or not. Either way in no way does this prove the Clippers are a better team. It was simply an off shooting night both fg and free throws, and a couple of mental mistakes by the Heat that lost them the game. No big deal. It happens to the best of them occasionally. Life goes on and the Heat are still the NBA’s best team.

    • Rudy Gay All Day says:

      Agree with this guy totally. Im a Grizzly fan and thought this was a fun game to watch, but without any doubt should’ve been the Heats win. They lost the game themselves, and it happens to the best of ‘em. Go Grizz!!

    • Crunch Time says:

      LOL I gave LeBron one dollar for four quarters; He only gave me three…

    • BFoulds says:

      This sounds like a typical Heat-Fanboy post in defense of their team. I C wut u did thar

    • sbfern805 says:

      HAHAHA!! As far as i know the best team in the NBA is DALLAS! they are the champions right? i dont recall the Heat winning the Finals series for you to consider them the best. They have to prove it! Now do they have the most talent…Possibly! But what good does that do, if Lebron is afraid to choke and doesnt shoot and really chokes when he does. Yes anyone has an off night and the Heat clearly did have a horrible finish, but we are comparing this game to the CLIPPERS!!!! a team that has not proven to become an elte team yet. Now tell me if Lebron has an off night again and they play in a seven game series against a REAL playoff team Oklahoma Thunder maybe…do you think the Thunder are going to be as easy as the Clippers? most likely not! In conclusion…For the Heat to be the best team in the NBA, they have to prove it, by winning a championship and they will never be until they win. Second, there are much better teams than the Clippers that are capable of blowing the Heat out by 20+ points in the same situation so dont compare just this game…look at the big picture!

    • Brad T says:

      Sure, Miami had missed a bunch of freethows, BUT they had 11 more fouls called in their favor, which is a bit of a disparity. So, if the refs had called fouls more evenly this would have been a wash.

      The funny thing is that when miami actually WANTED a foul against them, the refs were so used to ignoring miami fouling that they didn’t whistle it in the last 10s !!! ha ha ha

    • james says:

      Ok..thats true but not true…on all 5 of the clips wins theyve held their opponets under 90 points…Can the Miami Heat say that?

  50. I can´t believe theres no back game revenge in Miami.

  51. dysraw1 says:

    the clips will be in the playoffs theres no doubt, and will make a first round hell for some team