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No Shoot Around for Kome
tullabye » 11/24/15 » 9:56pm
11/25/15 » 10:56am
some quickfix for clips problems
japkilla » 11/24/15 » 8:44pm
11/25/15 » 10:40am
#14 - LA Clippers @ Denver Nuggets
SamIAm19 » 11/24/15 » 5:39pm
11/25/15 » 10:32am
would you guys trade DJ for
japkilla » 11/25/15 » 1:10am
11/25/15 » 10:27am
Don't judge until 20 games
V-Ice » 11/20/15 » 1:57am
11/24/15 » 10:03pm
Few teams have been as happy to be .500 recently as the Clippers, who climbed back to the break-even mark with a 111-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets that snapped their three-game losing streak. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. The Clippers looked more like themselves. The team’s Big...
In his first start of the season, Wesley Johnson did an above-average job and showcased the type of stuff that the Los Angeles Clippers need out of their small forward.
In what seems like a never-ending game of musical chairs at the small forward position, offseason acquisition Wesley Johnson got the start against the Denver Nuggets as the Los Angeles Clippers looked for any serviceable play out of that spot in the lineup. It’s a move quite a few fans have been calling for over the last several games, but it wasn’t one that was made by head coach Doc Rivers until just before the game tipped off. Based on how he played, it seems like the move paid off in a pretty big way. That’s what this Film Room will examine.
There has been a sad reality of Wesley Johnson’s career through his first five years in the league – not only has he never played on a team that made the playoffs, but he has never been on a team that even won 30 games in a season. When you’re rotting away as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, or Los Angeles Lakers, it’s hard to remember what makes you a worthwhile player. Johnson has his warts, we are all certain of that. However, he does have some things he does well. His best year, by all accounts, came with Mike D’Antoni at the helm of the Lakers in 2013-14. Maybe all he needs is someone to just believe in him.
The Clippers are searching for a starting small forward. When they signed Johnson, it looked like he might be battling Paul Pierce for that job. In the end, Lance Stephenson won the job away from both of them. After the team underwent struggles, Doc Rivers switched things around and went to Pierce. After that didn’t work, he finally went to Johnson for the first time all year. Having that first start come in Denver’s high altitude isn’t easy, but Johnson did his best to show why he deserves to stay the starter. Roll the film!
This play that kicks off this session might seem a tad familiar. It’s something the team has employed for a while. The main part of this is a screen handoff between Blake Griffin and one of the wings. The team ran this quite a bit with Matt Barnes in years past, but now that the starting small forward position is wide open it means that shots like these go to guys like Wesley Johnson. It’s one of the major play types the team likes to run for their wings so that it can initiate the offense without the need of a real ball-handler.
To start it off, Blake Griffin has the ball in a semi-transition state. He slows down and lets Wesley Johnson overlap him to the corner. Griffin waits for Johnson to recognize the situation, which Johnson does, and then Johnson sprints up the right side to receive the handoff from Griffin. As he receives it, Johnson squares straight up to the rim and fires a three. Nothing but net. The reason this works is because Griffin occupies both defenders in front of him, and also because Johnson’s defender goes under the screen without the other defender hedging on it. Open space, open shot, open basket.
A minute later, we get another screen handoff between Blake Griffin and a wing. However, this is an entirely different set that the team runs. It’s a semi-transition set featuring J.J. Redick getting the ball before shot faking from the right wing. Blake Griffin runs up to receive a pass before giving the screen handoff. Redick comes off of Griffin’s screen along the baseline, and throws a bounce pass directly into Wesley Johnson’s shooting pocket. Johnson releases the shot before his defender can retreat back. Another beautiful make.
One of the redeeming qualities of Johnson on this play is that he’s ready to shoot the entire time, and he also pays attention. The biggest thing a small forward has to do with this unit is just pay attention and keep their wits about them. Johnson raises his hand at the left arc to signal that he’s open, but he doesn’t get the ball – and for good reason. The team then hunts a better shot. When Redick starts to tightrope the baseline, Johnson slides down even more into the corner as his defender cheats onto Redick. This creates a passing lane. The hard sprint by DeAndre Jordan also creates a problem for defenders, which is another reason Johnson is so open. The play is perfect, the shot is perfect, and the result is perfect. It’s harmonious.
Another aspect that Johnson can bring on occasion is defense. While he’s not a great defender, or even an above-average one really, he can show flashes of good to great defensive prowess. Much like his entire career, there are flashes but not much substance. On this play, Johnson is matched up with Mike Miller. As the bunched set breaks, Miller receives a pindown screen from Nikola Jokic. Johnson fights over the screen to get back and contest a possible Miller three-point attempt. Due to that, Miller drives. As he does so, Johnson is right with him. DeAndre Jordan jumps to attempt a block, but Miller feathers a pass down to Jokic. Reacting perfectly, Johnson dives down and swats Jokic’s shot attempt before gathering the rebound.
Break this situation down in pieces. First, Johnson doesn’t die on a screen. He fights over the top of it and gets out to contest a Miller shot fake with his length while still giving himself room to recover without leaving his feet. Secondly, Johnson repositions his feet immediately after the closeout and contests Miller’s drive. Thirdly, and lastly, Johnson quickly recognizes the pass by Miller and switches off onto Jokic in time to block the shot. There’s a lot of quality stuff here. The length of Johnson made a lot of this possible, but his sheer willingness to not give up on the play was the real joy.
Another one of Johnson’s fun aspects is his ability to run the floor in transition. Matt Barnes used to do this very well, but Johnson adds an aspect that Barnes didn’t have – the lob finisher. Chris Paul gets the ball on the fast break after a deflection and motors up the court. Filling the middle gap is Blake Griffin, but Wesley Johnson is coming in hot on the left wing. Paul spots him, Johnson continues making the pristine rim run, and Paul fires the lob pass where only Johnson can get to it. Johnson gathers it, and finishes with a layup. It’s another thing Johnson brings.
A little later on in the second quarter, Danilo Gallinari tries to bully Wesley Johnson on the left wing. However, Johnson is having none of it. Gallinari gets into the body of Johnson to push him backwards, but Johnson stays square and keeps Gallinari at bay. This forces Darrell Arthur to set a screen that ultimately forces the Clippers to switch defensively. Johnson is smart here, though. As the Nuggets run their action on the other side of the court now, Johnson lets Arthur wander away from him. When the shot goes up, Johnson digs down to fight for a possible rebound. The shot is missed badly, and Johnson successfully grabs the rebound while boxing out Jokic since no one else could do it.
It’s the little things that make a big difference. In the last several games, possessions like these were ending with the opposition grabbing an offensive rebound and getting a second chance opportunity. Not here. And a huge part of why that didn’t happen is Wesley Johnson. He effectively neutralized an offensive possession by playing fundamental defense on the initial drive, then he switched well before recognizing proper spacing protocols, and lastly he made sure his team came away with the rebound. Everyone else on the team should take note on a play like this. You don’t just assume someone’s going to grab it. You go and get it yourself.
Hustle plays are always a big boon to success. Here, we see what happens when you actually compete hard. Blake Griffin misses a wide-open mid-range jumper, but DeAndre Jordan competes like crazy on the offensive glass before winning the rebound. He immediately gets swarmed by defenders, but he finds a little ray of sunshine in the right corner. That sunshine is Wesley Johnson. After Jordan secures the rebound, Johnson sprints back into the corner so Jordan can hit him with the pass. The pass is made, the shot goes up, and the points go on the board.
There’s absolutely no way of knowing if any of the hustle provided by Johnson in this game makes any of this possible, but it’s a great sign that Johnson knew where to be on this second chance opportunity. He saw what Jordan did, ran to the one spot Jordan could get him the ball, and made the shot once Jordan actually passed it to him. That’s a level of awareness and understanding that you like to see out of a starting unit. Johnson showed that he had that level of play tonight.
Facts need to be stated, though. Wesley Johnson won’t shoot 54.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three all season long. Enjoy it while you can. He’s also not going to shoot 58.8 percent on corner threes all year, either. However, take solace in the fact that there are some things he did in this game that you can take with you going forward. He knew where to be, competed, and gave an effort that the team desperately needed. Wesley Johnson played 21 minutes with the starters last night, and they had a +33.6 Net Rating. If he keeps doing what he did in this game, then he should be in store for far more minutes with them in the future. Only time will tell. From this game, though, there was a whole lot to like.
Just when you were getting used to reading tales of the Clippers demise, they go and get win against a team they were supposed to beat. They'll try to string two of those games together tonight against a motivated Jazz team.
2015-16 NBA Regular Season
vs Utah Jazz (6-7)
Los Angeles Clippers (7-7) November 25, 2015 — 7:30 PM PT STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, California) Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16) 6-7 Record 7-7 4-4 East 1-1 2-3 West 6-6 1-2 Division 3-3 2-2 Home 5-3 4-5 Road 2-4 4-5 .500+ 4-5 2-2 .500– 3-2 0-0 OT 0-0 4-6 L10 4-6 Projected Starters Raul Neto PG Chris Paul Rodney Hood SG J.J. Redick Gordon Hayward SF Wesley Johnson Derrick Favors PF Blake Griffin Rudy Gobert C DeAndre Jordan Efficiency Stats ('14-'15) 94.91 (29th) Pace 99.7 (12th) 99.5 (22nd) OffRtg 103.9 (5th) 99.1 (24th) DefRtg 104.3 (22nd) 0.4 (13th) NetRtg -0.4 (19th) Injury Report
Rudy Gobert (tailbone) Probable
Dante Exum (ACL tear) Out
Are we panicking? We're still panicking, right?
The Clippers had an 18 point lead late in the fourth quarter last night in Denver, which was horrifying. They won, but goodness gracious. Can't cut it that close again, for the sake of my health. Am I right? It should go without saying that any Clippers-fan-slash-blogger doesn't have anything too nice to say about the Clips at this point, and while Tuesday's win in Denver offered some solace, we are talking about a frickin' .500 team here, guys. This supposed "championship" team with their "players" and "coaches" and their "goals." Allegedly. Scandalous rumors of expletives being uttered--NAY, SHOUTED--in the locker room, in an NBA locker room, of all places...! J.J. Redick getting TATTOOED during the season? Well, I never. We are Clippers fans, and we have expectations, dammit! Legitimate ones, for once! We demand wins, and tattoo-less shooting guards! Don't we?
It should be noted, of course, that the previous paragraph should be read in jest. In-jested, if you will (happy Thanksgiving, by the way!). But don't get me wrong, there are plenty of legitimate gripes and sour grapes to suck on regarding the Clippers--and that statement is jest-less (di-jested?)--but being the optimistic naive sadistic Clippers fan that I am, I believe early struggles mean early adjustments. And if I'm wrong, whatever--it's just another offseason of pain, suffering, judgement, questioning the existence of a God or any kind of moral justice in the universe before I fall right back into this foolish black hole of optimism. Normal Clipper fan stuff.
It should be noted, dear reader, that this is my first game preview of the season, and I apparently have a lot of blogging kinks to work out. Sorry about things getting weird, but these are weird times.
The Young and the Jazzy
The Jazz are a team that has fascinated me in recent seasons. Though gone are the days of Jerry Sloan, a keenness for fundamental basketball and a can-do spirit remain with the Utah Jazz. Kind of refreshing when you consider the current state of the Clippers, don't ya think? Tired of being a team billed as "having a lot of promise," the Jazz are looking forward to taking that leap from a team that will try hard, but you're going to beat anyway to Actual NBA Playoff Team (TM). Quin Snyder ain't no slouch, either, and he won't allow his team to be. While their name might not strike fear into your heart just yet, they'll slug ya right in the mouth if you're not ready for them. Keep in mind that these dudes have forged a 6-7 record, the same stat your Los Angeles Clippers had yesterday, while playing a whopping nine games on the road already this season. So...go Jazz? I mean, do I like the Jazz? I feel like I have a lot of nice things to say about them...perhaps too many nice things. Taking that into consideration, I would like to take this opportunity to insult Gordon Hayward. He's so pale, right? So pale, you guys. None of the Clippers are that pale, so there's that. Way to tan, fellas, way to tan!
Mail's here! And it's covered in red hair and freckles
I guess Blake Griffin is okay. He briefly left Friday's game against the Raptors with a non-contact knee injury, which is enough to make any seasoned Clipper fan panic (more than usual). But the Flyin' Lion put up 18, 10 and 4 last night against Denver and didn't look hindered at all. But more importantly, how about that jumper, right guys? He's shooting 45% from beyond 15 feet this season (and, wait for it--40% from 3-point range!). Griffin's nuanced, technical, expertly-learned jumpshot has been smoother, more reliable, and better integrated into his natural game than ever this season, harkening memories of another straight-shooting yet powerful power forward who once played for the Jazz. The subtitle of this section was supposed to be a play on Blake Griffin as the new Mailman, by the way. Perhaps I should also mention the player I'm comparing him to in order to bring our younger and dumber readers into the loop, and also for SEO reasons. So, Karl Malone.
The Stifle Tower
Rudy Gobert knows nothing except: PROTECT THE RIM, and make opposing players look stupid for even trying. The 7'1" youngster is averaging 11 rebounds and a stifling three blocks per game. Deandre Jordan has a great opportunity to exercise some of his "I'm a superstar-level free agent now, apparently" post moves out on this big French lug. It's pronounced Go-bear, people.
That small forward thing
Okay guys, Doc finally said it: He likes Wesley Johnson "the most." There, the conundrum at the 3-spot is settled! The--wait, no? "We're just gonna keep moving it around," is how the coach finished that thought. Can you--how 'bout--what if, not that? Wes had his best game of the season in his first start in Denver, scoring 11 points in 23 minutes while hitting 3-4 from deep. I mean, I'm sold. After having six different starting lineups in six straight games, maybe Doc will offer some consistency on this front. He's listed as starting in the Clips Nation game preview, Doc, so don't make a liar of me!
Joe Ingles is Australian and was a Clipper through training camp last season. In his brief time with LAC, he became a fan favorite of sorts, even if his popularity was merely a novelty due to his luxurious, yet slightly annoying Aussie cadence. After the Clips cut him last season, Utah picked him up and he's actually still doing NBA player things. He's averaging 4 points in 13 minutes so far this season, so, good on ya, mate!
It was the kind of fling one might try in the backyard, if there was no one around to see how silly you looked.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin leaped to catch a pass from Wesley Johnson with the shot clock about to expire midway through the third quarter, launching a three-pointer while hanging...
Wesley Johnson was animated long before tipoff.
He smiled while seated at his locker and answered instantaneously when asked if it would be exciting to make his first start for the Clippers.
"Hell yeah, it's exciting," Johnson said. "I'm looking forward to it."
Johnson was bouncy in the early going...
The Clippers are finally able to get back into the win column with a convincing victory over Denver.
It wasn't pretty, but the Los Angeles Clippers were finally able to get back into the win column Tuesday night. Winning at the Pepsi Center is never an easy proposition, but L.A. went into Denver and downed the Nuggets 111-94. Six Clippers finished in double-figures, including all five starters, as they were finally able to snap a three-game losing skid and get a game they had to have. With a game in Utah tomorrow, L.A. couldn't afford to blow the first, easier half of the back-to-back. So, they didn't.
The starters looked much more lively to begin this one than they had in the last couple of games, jumping out to a 25-16 lead about halfway through the first. The ball movement was crisp and decisive, which helped keep the Nuggets' defense off-balance. Getting Blake Griffin going early felt like a necessity after his poor effort Sunday against Toronto, and he came out looking confident. Blake drilled each of his first three jumpers, while Chris Paul assisted on each of the first five Clipper buckets. The Clippers actually looked like the Clippers! But then...the reserves started to trickle in.
L.A.'s final points of the frame came on a J.J. Redick jumper at the 4:16 mark. From there, the Nuggets would go on a 10-0 run and would take a one-point lead into the second quarter. As has been the case most of the year with the bench lineup, the ball wasn't moving and, as a result, the majority of the shots they were getting were long, contested looks. The Clippers actually didn't record a single point in the paint in the first, and their only attempt came on an ill-fated DeAndre Jordan post-up.
The bench played quite poorly to finish the first period, but they held their own in the second. Following his reported postgame tirade on Sunday, Josh Smith gave the Clippers some excellent minutes, finishing with eight points and five boards in the second quarter alone. Rather than settling for jumpers the way they had been, the bench did a fine job of attacking the bucket and forcing the action. Smith was a menace on the boards and served as the catalyst for the bench's nice stint. The all-bench unit came into the game with a three-point lead, and handed a three-point lead back to the starters when the left at the 5:48 mark of the second. This was an excellent stretch for the bench, especially considering all that's gone wrong with them so far this season.
Danilo Gallinari predictably proved to be a handful for L.A., as well. He's a unique combination of size, strength, and skill, and the Clippers really don't have anybody you'd say would be an ideal defender for him. Gallo was enjoying a seemingly endless parade to the free throw line in the first half, and wound up going 16-of-17 from the stripe in the game. He almost single-handedly got Wesley Johnson into foul trouble, which fortunately didn't come back to haunt LAC in the end. Gallinari would finish with 20 points and 18 rebounds, both game highs, despite hitting just 2-of-10 shots from the field.
Speaking of Wesley Johnson, he was excellent in his highly-anticipated first start of the season. Here's what Redick had to say about Wes after the game (h/t Justin Russo):November 25, 2015
"Spacing" has been Doc Rivers' buzz word regarding why he demoted Lance Stephenson from the starting lineup, and he's surely pleased with the effort he got out of Johnson in this one. His excellent three-point shooting this season continued, as he drilled 3-of-4 from beyond in 25 minutes. He's a heady player that won't force the action, which is exactly what the Clippers need out of their starting small forward. Johnson is quite clearly a better fit than both Stephenson (who played fairly well tonight) and Paul Pierce (again disappointing) at that spot.
Despite not playing particularly well, the Nuggets were able to hang around early in the third. Letting inferior teams stay close on their home floor is a recipe for disaster, but the Clips were eventually able to weather the storm. Following his hot start, Griffin suddenly got cold, missing 10 consecutive shots at one point. However, he was able to get back on track with the most miraculous of threes, this "alley-oop" effort at the death of the shot clock (via @DanWoikeSports):
Lob City!!!!! https://t.co/VUArJh2vLr— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) November 25, 2015
After that, Blake hit each of his next three shots as the Clippers effectively put the game away. The offense was once again able to get going with brilliant passing and off-ball movement. LAC scored on nine consecutive possessions over a span of five minutes, with Denver helpless to stop them. The Nuggets were able to mount a mini-run against the Clips' bench towards the end of the third, but a Jamal Crawford half-court heave at the buzzer restored an 11-point lead for Los Angeles.
The fourth quarter was an absolute mess. There were fouls, fouls and more fouls. There were a total of 23 fouls called in the fourth alone, though most of those were Denver hack-a-DJ attempts. Jordan wound up shooting an NBA season-high 25 free throws, hitting 12 of them. If you're hitting 50% of your free throws when the opposition is intentionally fouling you, that's a win. Jordan connected on just enough of them to kill any chance Denver had of making it close in the end.
There were plenty of positives for the Clippers in this game, but the semblance of a workable rotation has to top the list. The Nuggets never mounted a huge surge, due in large part to the disciplined Clipper offense. L.A. turned the ball over just seven times in the game, which helped limit the damage an athletic team like Denver was able to do in transition. Yes, the Clips were outrebounded yet again (48-43), but they also limited the Nuggets to just eight offensive boards. Denver came into the game No. 7 in the NBA in offensive rebound rate, so keeping them off of the offensive glass was a huge plus for L.A.
They also did a fine job of limiting one of Denver's star rookies, Emmanuel Mudiay. Mudiay thrives on getting to the basket, but the Clippers were able to keep him out of the paint and make him a jump shooter. He'd finish with seven points and four assists in 24 nondescript minutes of action. The Nuggets are full of young, unproven players, and the Clips did well in asserting themselves as the superior team by refusing to let Denver get back into it.
As mentioned above, this felt close to a must-win for the Clippers with a showdown against the Jazz looming on Wednesday. The second half of a back-to-back at altitude against a stingy defensive team like Utah could prove problematic, but here's hoping the Clippers are able to build off of the success they found in Denver.