Preview and Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Phillip Barnett —  December 19, 2011

Records (Last season): Lakers 57-25 (2n in West), Clippers 32-50 (13th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.0 (6th in NBA), Clippers 105.3 (22nd in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.3 (6th in NBA), Clippers 108.7 (18th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Blake, Kobe Bryant, Matt Barnes, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Clippers: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

The Lakers Coming In: The moves the Lakers have made, and the moves the Lakers have attempted to make this offseason aren’t a secret. Lamar Odom is gone while we’re going to have to have to get used to seeing Jason Kapono, Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy clad in the Forum Blue and Gold.

We’re also going to have to get used to seeing Mike Brown on the sidelines. So much so that I forget to add this little nugget when I initially wrote this preview. We’re no longer going to see the Zen Master stoically sitting on the Lakers bench in his high chair, but instead the more energetic Brown who has promised to shape up this Lakers defense and run the offense through the post. Strange times indeed.

Lastly, this is the first time in three years that the Lakers aren’t entering the season coming off a trip to the NBA Finals as they were swept by the Mavericks in the Western Conference Semis. Even with all of the changes, with the embarrassing playoff exit and the lack of a big signing, the Lakers are still entering this season with a hell of a team. Kobe is seemingly as healthy as he’s going to be, the ankle is fine and he under went a unique knee surgery. Even with LO gone, the Lakers still have one of the league’s premier front-courts.

These may not be the most ideal circumstances headed into the new year, but this is where the Lakers currently stand.

The Clippers Coming In: For the first time in years, the other team in Los Angeles has a legitimate reason to be optimistic about their future. With Blake Griffin emerging as one of the most exciting young ball players and DeAndre Jordan finally coming into his own, it seemed as if they only needed to get healthy and a veteran presence to bring everything together.

The health issue still remains to be seen, but the veteran presences was answered when they acquired Caron Butler, then Chanucey Billups, then Chris Paul. While Butler and Paul have both had health issues of their own, Butler gives the Clippers a huge boost at the small forward position, where the Clippers struggled most last year, and the point guard spot, where adding Chris Paul to any team would be a positive.

Now with one of the better emerging frontcourts paired with two of the better decision makers handling the ball for the Clippers, the franchise has gone from being the laughing stock of the NBA to now being dubbed “Lob City” before even playing a game together. Suffice to say, exciting things will be coming from the Lakers Staples roommates, but the question remains: are these additions enough for the Clippers to contend for a championship. As they’re currently built, it’s hard to say yes, but we’re definitely looking at a much improved — and a much more competitive Clippers team.

Clippers Blogs: Make sure you guys give Clipper Blog a look for all news about the other team in Los Angeles.

Keys to the Game: With tonight being the first pre-season game of the year, it’s important to remember that this is by no means a measuring stick to see how the Lakers compare to the new-look Clippers, nor one to see whether or not the Clippers can compete with the perennial contending Lakers.

What we should really be paying attention to is how some of the newer players work with guys who have been here a while. We should be looking seeing what kind of sets the Lakers are running on the offensive end of the floor and the changes new Head Coach Mike Brown has made to the defense. I’m particularly going to be interested to see if either Kapono or Murphy can stretch the floor enough to give guys like Kobe, Pau, and Bynum room to operate inside.

I’ll also be paying close attention to watching how Kobe moves. This is his first NBA action since the knee surgery. I’ll be looking at the fluidity of his jump shot, how often he penetrates versus settling for contested jumpers and how active he is on the defensive end.

Tonight isn’t a night to expect perfection. Tonight is nothing more than a first look at the Lakers against another NBA team, and nothing more. With a shortened off-season, they’ve had little time for the guys to learn the new system and even a smaller amount of time to integrate new players with the old.

Enjoy tonight, as it’s been much too long since we’ve had any hoops.

Where to watch: You can watch locally on FSW or nationally on NBATV.

 

Phillip Barnett

Posts

62 responses to Preview and Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. Warren. #1 for #1!

  2. After weeks of wailing and gnashing of teeth, we finally get what we all need as fans–a meaningless preseason game–but at least it’s basketball and not speculation….

  3. MICHAEL ZARABI aka ZERB December 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    how long before the clippers curse takes chris paul … i hope it doesnt happen, but we all know it will

  4. IMO, the most important thing to discern from this preseason game will be Kobe’s attitude toward his teammates and coach.

    That may well determine this season for the Lakers.

  5. totally agree with #4. Kobe has a lot going on so hopefully his singular focus will be positive as it relates to his teammates, the coach, and the situation as a whole. So much murkiness…

  6. Fisher is going to sit out this game, so Blake will start. Coach Brown doesn’t want to rush Fish into it and risk injury.

  7. #6 Abu Saud

    Good catch. Made the change in the preview.

  8. I am so sick of hearing about someone possibly getting injured on the Lakers, or as a matter of fact someone on any other team. Quit with the negative speculation, we all know that it is a part of the game and any team that it befalls their opportunity to make it to the finals is greatly diminished. Sheeesh!

    If Brown is going to start Blake while Fisher rests, this is a good move. Blake can get his mojo back against his old team and hopefully go into the season with confidence. Also, an excellent opportunity to see what the Lakers rookies have to offer, as this is a big time game that does not count.

    Kobe and Chris Paul cancel each other out. Our cross town rivalry will depend more on how well Pau Gasol plays against Griffin and vice versa. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if Bynum can log more blocks and play team defense without fouling than Deandre Jordan.

  9. I’m interested in seeing how much Murphy has left. Obviously 2010/11 was a disaster for him, but in the 2 seasons prior he was a top-notch defensive rebounder and 3-point marksman. His defense won’t remind anyone of Lamar but he could still be a useful pickup.

  10. i’m going to be watching Ebanks, me thinks he’s going to grow into a solid contributor this season!

    it’s been too long since we’ve had the nice Bonus situation of getting solid playing time from rook’s, let’s hope it is this year, wouldn’t that be nice?

  11. good news, everyone. kim jong-un, the Great Successor, is a Laker fan.

  12. As stated and as we all know, the game has little relevance. But with that being said, I’ll definitely have a watchful eye on our youngsters: McBobs, Ebanks and Morris. Try to evaluate how they will be able to help us down the road. Also will be paying attention to T. Murph to see what he has left in the tank.

  13. LET’S go LAKERS!!!!!!

  14. Finally, some Lakers basketball! Since we already know the vets, I’m looking forward to seeing our young talent on display. Namely, Ebanks and his improved game – if KB24 had praise for it, there must be something there. Darius Morris is another player I’m looking forward to seeing.. his game reminds me of a certain legendary Lakers point guard.

    I have faith in Mike Brown, our core players, and our organization, so I fully expect the Lakers to be a top-3 team in the West this year (assuming all 3 of our star players are in reasonably good health).

  15. I can’t believe I am actually excited about a pre-season game…! I’ve been reading Lakers news all day, and I am seriously considering watching the game tonight.

    I think this is a sign of severe NBA withdrawal. I may need help. :)

  16. Basketball is back! Go LAKERS!

  17. This is probably the most excited about a preseason game I’ve ever been. Finally some real live basketball!

    I’ve got a question for league pass broadband users, if there are any on here: How often do the games get blacked out?? I cancelled my cable earlier this year, and use a computer connected to my tv for all my television watching needs. However, watching the Lakers is a necessity =) and I’d gladly pay for a high quality stream. Any info is greatly appreciated!

    Edit: I’ve found my own answer on http://leaguepasssupport.nba.com/link/portal/7801/7801/Article/143/-What-are-blackouts. So apparently, any game televised locally i.e. Kcal, is blacked out on broadband. Splendid. There goes my excitement and my money NBA!

  18. Basketball is back! yesss! Go LAKERS!

  19. Looking forward to seeing how the Lakers look under coach Mike Brown even though it’s just a pre-season game. Glad basketball is back.
    Go Lakers

  20. sbdunks – To pile on here – I don’t live in the LA area (so no local blackouts) and had League Pass the past two years. Laker games are blacked out all the time, especially when they have fan votes on the NBA TV game of the week.

  21. WELCOME TO THE TEAM MCBOBS!!

  22. I know that this is just a pre-season game that means really nothing. But, these no-look passes, and dunks, and team playing are great so far, like the Showtime Lakers.

  23. McBobs & Morris – nice.

  24. So far, I like what I see. The new guys bring energy and hunger that I think was missing last year. Defense still has a ways to go, though.

  25. Can’t watch today, just looking at box scores,

    Would you give the keys to the Lakers car to Darius Morris?

  26. WOAH!
    Brian Cook is still in the NBA?

  27. darius morris even shoots like andre miller.

  28. So Ebanks hasn’t played?

    Anyone looking good so far? Boxscore-watching, Morris seems like he’s off to a good start.

  29. Whoops, that Anonymous is me.

  30. McBobs and Morris have looked pretty good.

  31. A technical for that? LOL

  32. Really missing the triangle right now. I miss the fluidity….

  33. Morris Kobe ron mcbob drew that lineup would be sick.

    Pau is an embarrassment. Anybody else hate his game. It is so soft and weak. Playoffs all over. Painful to watch him play.

    Other thoughts

    Luke is done.
    Blake is meh Morris outplaying him like crazy
    Barnes and artest shooting mechanics are trash. Like ron’s defense though
    Trade pau to get lamar back lol

  34. 1) Show me more Morris and McBobs

    2) I guess fans can’t see show time anymore from big dunks.

    3) Where is our middle??

    4) Where. Is. Our. Middle.

  35. I already miss the triangle. The only Laker that looks sharp so far is McBob. Our bigs have been disappointing–moves in the post are in slow motion. On the flip side Billups and Paul look terrific. It’s painful to watch CP3 and think of what might have been.

  36. My observations so far:
    Metta World Peace didn’t work on his shooting in the offseason and we still can’t stop point guards from getting in the lane. WE NEED A POINT GUARD!!

    Other than that, everyone pretty much seems the same. I was very critical of the McRoberts signing but I do like his activity and can see value in him for this team.

  37. Liking Morris a lot from the short time we saw him.

  38. Did Ebanks start the game at the 3?

  39. The thing about this game is that afterwards everyone is going to be claiming it’s just a preseason game and not to read too much into this, but it’s pretty obvious to me that we have some major weaknesses.

    As I write this Chris Paul just broke down our point guard again and lobbed it to DeAndre Jordan for another dunk.

  40. Yep. Lakers are weak. Not enough fire power

  41. @ 35 No, Matt Barnes started. Ebanks started the second half

  42. the lakers are shooting themselves in the foot on one end and being bludgeoned on the other.

    they’re going to better but it’s going to take time. they’re disorganized.

  43. Their offense is so stagnant.

  44. Well the Lakers looked horrible in the third quarter. Clippers almost to 90 and still a minute to go. I guess the good news is there is a ton of room for improvement.

    The Clippers starting five looks great, not sure beyond that

  45. Morris is like the new Shannon brown…he needs to learn how to password the ball

  46. Any links for the game?

  47. google first row sports.com

    click the basketball link. You should see the game. Ads though…

  48. For the Lakers to be successful in Brown’s offense, we need to have someone that can break down the defense and create shots the way Lebron did for Cleveland. That’s why the front office went after CP3 so hard. Unfortunately, Kobe can’t or won’t do this consistently anymore. I would have liked to see Kobe set up his teammates from the outset of the game, instead he was looking for his own. Doesn’t bode well.

  49. give it up laker fans… time to jump on the clipper bandwagon

  50. one problem tonight is failing to hit bigs with passes. they do that, the defense collapses and open shots are created. drew and pau did a really good job of running the floor and getting position early, too.

    .

  51. Derek – you are 100% right about us needing someone who can break down the defense in Brown’s offense. Where are we going to get this player? However I disagree that Kobe was looking for his shot from the offseat. He didn’t start doing that until the second half.

    This game looked like a continuation from game 4 against Dallas.

  52. Key stats: Lakers – 21 turnovers, 28 of 41 on free throws. Clippers 13 of 28 on three pointers.

    Ebanks looked lost in the third, but showed up in the fourth. I hope that was just finding his feet and not because he was playing scrubs.

  53. Anyone who thinks Artest can anchor the second unit offensively didn’t watch him play last year. The guy may have a little defense left in the tank but offensively he is a train wreck.

  54. Quick feel: Lakers are a team built for the triangle that is no longer running the triangle. It is a team without identity.

    Mike Brown will be on the hot seat all year.

  55. It’s going to be tough for personnel built to run the triangle offense to adapt to a different offense. Derek at #48 is right. We don’t have any PGs who can break down the defense in this offense, and Kobe’s finger and mileage hampers his ability to do the same. Pau has no utility in Mike Brown’s stagnant offense.

    The way I see it, OKC, DAL, SAS, MEM, LAC, and DEN (in any order) should be the top six in the West, with four teams–LAL, HOU, UTA, and PHO fighting for the 7th and 8th spots. Perhaps POR could sneak in as well. All we need is for our guys to make the playoffs. Anything can happen in a short series, and there will be many more days off in the postseason for the team’s old legs.

    The key is going to be the defense. We already know the offense isn’t going to be very good, as Pau, Fish, Blake, Ebanks, and Barnes aren’t the types who can be effective standing around and waiting for Kobe to go one vs four. However, Brown has a really good defensive reputation, and Drew, MWP, Kobe, Pau, Ebanks, and Barnes could be pretty effective on the defensive end.

  56. not liking the box score, but if anything, i prefer to peak late than early.

    so let’s see how things change in the second game.

  57. Dude (56),

    Wow, are you that pessimistic? Give it a few games. Morris looked really good this game (I know, he’s a rookie and it’s preseason). Blake looks more assertive than he did last year. The offense didn’t look too stagnant too me; I saw a movement and lots of screens. The offense will come together, I think.

  58. Here’s how the first game went to me:

    Kobe – still effective and an all-star but looked about the same as last year, pretty good but no longer dominant

    Bynum – looked about the same as last year which is a slightly above-average center, not good because with Odom gone they need Bynum to be a prime-time player

    Pau – OK but again looked about the same as last year, which is all-star level but not at the top like he was in 2009 or 2010

    Metta – yikes! If he’s going to help anchor the 2d team offense he needs to do better than that

    Barnes – yikes too, needs to do more than just set up for 3’s, they need him to be a Ceballos-type that gets garbage buckets

    Blake – looked better than last year, they need it

    Morris – looked better against the 2d string than vs. Paul, but I liked what I saw, they need his youth

    Kapono – hit some shots and that’s what he’s there for

    Murphy – ditto

    McRoberts – a flawed player but can be a more skilled Rambis type blue collar player

    Ebanks – hit and miss, let’s see how he progresses, they need him

    Luke – tough break with his health but he’s just not helping now

    overall – not a championship contender but certainly could be a top 4 seed, if Pau and Bynum are going to play like this they may as well trade them both to get Dwight and play McRoberts and Murphy at the 4

  59. Morris had some good moments but dribbles too much, more likely to pick up garbage time minutes.

    McRoberts could be an energy guy off the bench which the Lakers need. He played a decent game

    Barnes and Metta World Peace did not look good in this pre-season game.

    Same problem on closeouts on open shooters, Lakers defense was not good defending the 3. Lakers played a decent first half and a terrible third quarter.

    Because of the shortened training camp teams can dress and play 13 until Feb 6. This will allow more flexibility with rotations to start the season.

  60. End of game…

    Funny, I’m not THAT mad…Why?

    1) I can say: We have a PG! Not the best in the league, but at least somebody we can call a PG. I’m talking about non-triangle-Blake and Darius Morris. Either one is a better option than Fish. I liked the kid a lot.

    2) McBob passed the first test. Get a pass from Kobe and dunk? He just delivered, as asked.

    3) Kapono was ok, hit his shots

    4) Ebanks was ok too.

    5) (this is for Otis Smith’s eyes only): Bynum was AWESOME! Did you see those 2 (or 3?) dunks? Those shots he missed 1 (one) feet from the basket, he was…erm…fouled. Yes, that was a foul… The kid is the future, why do you need DH? Dump him to the old Lakers…

    6) (Still for Otis) Artest was a great…erm…player. He shot a lot. Ok, majority were bricks, but at least you should give him credits for being wide open. Besides, the rim is too narrow…(Otis, he’s a great defender. He and Bynum for DH and Hedo is a bargain…)

    7) Guys, wake up: We need to score. Chances for errors are very little now. Byllups hit most of his shots, Butler too…Even Cook. Artest was a disaster; brick after brick. The guy can’t play anymore.

    I expect MB to try different things for the next game. As long as he’s gattering information about the players and how they can play together, I’m good. Actually, by 1/2 time I was already happy. Morris was solid. That’s enough.

    Cheers.

  61. Reading these comments, I fully expect David Stern to contract the Lakers franchise by the end of the week.

    Jeez people. It was one preseason game. But extrapolate away. I’m sure this has all to do with Mike Brown’s horribly stagnant offensive schemes, and nothing to do with the 1-week training camp to learn new schemes for the first time in quite a few years.

  62. Snoopy makes a good point @62 that I think we need to remember. Our team has a new coach that wants then to run an entirely new system, that’s very different from what they have been running for years now. They have a lot of new players on the roster, that are still getting to know each other and learn how to play together.

    In addition to all that, what we saw last night was not exactly the rotation Brown will go with as the regular season takes off and things get serious. For all we know, he was experimenting and deliberately using this first game together to toss all the rookies into the spotlight under relatively safe circumstances, so they know more what it’s like when the real thing begins.

    Let’s try and focus on the good stuff here.

    1. It can only get better, and it will. The team will figure things out, and they will learn the new system and how to work with their new coach and team mates.

    2. We have smart players on our team, so chances are they will learn fast. Even more because in addition to being smart, they’re also driven. Kobe isn’t going to let anyone slack off this year.

    3. They look like they’re having fun again. Please tell me I’m not the only one who noticed, as the first quarter took off with Kobe’s beautiful perimeter shot, that the swagger is back? It might just be the unusually long break, or the natural spark from having a change of pace, but yes, whatever caused it, the swagger is back.

    4. We have a shooter! Jason Kapono’s buzzer-beater was gorgeous. Mainly because he made it, but also because it’s been a while since someone who isn’t Kobe dared to shoot the ball late in the shot clock, just because he’s open and no one else is, and it’s the thing to do. We have people who try, sure, but we’ve been missing a perimeter shooter who is both confident and accurate.

    5. When things clicked between the players on the floor yesterday, they looked good. There is lots of work that needs to be done, yes, particularly in the scoring department (another shot creator would be nice…), and communication on both ends of the floor needs to be better, but all the same, the spark is there. Now we just need to make it grow into a big flame.

    Games where things go wrong are learning opportunities. The Clippers team that beat us yesterday isn’t a bad team, so there is lots of material to use to make the first two things in my little list come true.

    I’ve missed basketball! :)