Thursday Night Lights On TNT

VIDEO: Clippers coach Doc Rivers breaks down his team’s loss to Orlando

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If the Los Angeles Clippers are using these early season games as measuring-stick contests to see where they stand against other members of the NBA elite, tonight’s game in Miami against the Heat will serve as the ultimate examination.

In fact, tonight’s TNT double-header — Clippers-Heat at 7 p.m. ET and Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets facing the Los Angeles Lakers at the Toyota Center at 9:30 p.m. ET — should have been dubbed Thursday night lights, given all of the star power that will be on display.

The Howard-Lakers saga has been overcooked for months now and we’ve done our fair share of cooking around here. Howard has clearly tried to move on, while the Lakers are doing their very best to do the same, sans Kobe Bryant, for the time being. Howard needs to get on the floor against the Lakers for the first time since he bolted via free agency to give us all a little closure on the entire mess … at least until they meet again.

Howard will have the home crowd on his side tonight, he can expect a much different environment when he returns to Los Angeles to face the Lakers at Staples Center. But Dwight and the Rocket have moved on and are thriving early on this season.

Meanwhile, Clippers coach Doc Rivers continues to vet his team. He has to find out if they have the championship mettle needed to finish the journey while the Heat don’t have to worry about that. They know what’s at their core. Of all the teams on the big stage tonight, the Clippers are the ones with the lingering questions.

They’ve been overwhelmed and worked over twice already this season by teams that were not supposed to be their equal. The Lakers ambushed them on opening night and Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic got them Wednesday night.

Is this going to be a recurring theme for the Clippers, playing down to the competition?

Will Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan continue to get outplayed by guys like Vucevic, grinders who are not wowed by the shock and awe of the Lob City duo’s highlight work?

The Clippers lead the league in scoring (119 points a night) while also leading the league in points allowed (just over 112 points), making them the most exciting and vulnerable team in the league at the same time. Rivers knows better than to allow his team to continue down this path, as he explained to reporters after the loss to the Magic.

“I thought we were very casual in our approach tonight, and that’s me,” Rivers said. “I’ve always got to get them ready and I didn’t … Offense is always fool’s gold. You got to defend to win. The good part about tonight is that it was proof. When we started to get stops, we started scoring. It’s difficult to run when you’re taking the ball out of bounds every time.”

Battling the Magic is one thing. Trading blows with a Heat team that has been on red alert for statement games night after night over the past three seasons will take a colossal effort from Chris Paul and his crew. The world will be watching to see if the Clippers are up to the challenge. The Heat recognize the world is always watching to see if there will be any chinks in their armor that gets exposed by another “contender.”

The fact that we get all of that, with the Howard-Lakers drama as a nightcap, is a bonus for everyone watching.

Thursday night lights on TNT … it has a nice ring to it, no?


  1. Cefri says:

    Houston, a number 4 team in the west? What a shame! Just lost to an underachieving Lakers sans Kobe, at their own turf! Sweet revenge for the Lakers.

  2. okc2014 says:

    I’m not really rooting for any team in particular, but it will be interesting if the usual suspects DON’T win. What matters most is that tonight is all star power and I will be watching!

  3. Warrior Don says:

    Anytime the Clippers lose is a good thing for my. Warriors and #dubnation bcs we are shooting for a top 2 seed in the playoffs and Homecourt advantage through the 1st & 2nd round

  4. Johnny says:

    Deandre Jordan is no where near the player that Vucevic is. So he wasn’t “downplaying” anything. He got dominated like he should’ve been and it was a failure by the whole Clippers team on defense and not just by Griffin and Jordan being outplayed in the paint.

  5. hell yeah,heat will win this one. they are well rested as usual, as the sked favors them again and again. while clips on the other hand has a hard sked to coup up with. i just hope that next season, the scheme for the making of schedule will not be very favorable to one team, and very detrimental on the others. just like last season,the nuggets and spurs sked was harsh. just saying though.

  6. tv63 says:

    Clippers are electrifying to watch. 2 teams you want to watch in the West is Clippers and Golden State. Clippers remain to have the same problem they have always had even with Vinny.. DEFENSE. Doc has got to get them on board are they will continue to fall short and it’s a damn shame because there is amazing talent on that team.

  7. Common Sense says:

    Tonights game will be a shock if the clips or lakers can win. Clips have a new team from last year and need to learn to play together still, same goes for the Lakers. Houston has the same team as last year with Dwight added on, and the Heat are the same. It should be a blow out in both games, but with doc, Paul and the Clips, I hope to see a competitive one.I have little faith the Lakers will pull anything together, especially without Kobe

    • slider821 says:

      I agree, especially since Clippers are on their second night of a back to back. Question is, can deandre force miami to go big? I don’t think he’s offensively skilled enough, but who knows what Doc can draw up for him. If LAC lets miami command the matchups, the clippers will surely leave with a loss.

  8. Heat and Rockets will win tonight.

    Doc I like your coaching style but I think the Clips are not ready to beat the Heat, unless they can play some solid D.

    Rockets – Laker will be more exciting to watch when Kobe is back. This is going to be just like the “Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning beef” hehehe.