Found November 15, 2012 on Fox Sports West:
LOS ANGELES -- A case could be made that the other basketball team in Los Angeles, the one that did not rock the NBA with its blockbuster deals last summer, did not blow out its coach five games into the season, and does not generally operate as if exists under a big top, is actually the one worth watching. No, really watching. The Lakers are masters at collecting talent, headlines -- and in past iterations, championships -- but watching them play can sometimes requires effort. Watch the Clippers, on the other hand, and you never know what you might see. Jamal Crawford, the newly acquired sixth man, is well on his way to compiling a mix tape of defenders he's clowned -- making Rudy Gay fall down, turning Metta World Peace inside and out, and nutmegging Nando De Colo. When DeAndre Jordan threw down a one-handed rebound dunk, he jumped so high that his foot clipped the net as he began to fall. Then on Wednesday night, Eric Bledsoe, the defensive dynamo of a guard, blocked a dunk by Dwyane Wade by meeting him at the rim, an achievement that earned him a subtle pat on the behind from Wade. And surely at some point this season, Blake Griffin is bound to deliver a highlight dunk of his own, one that perhaps -- like his slam over Kendrick Perkins -- might not only be a posterizing dunk but one that spawns its own T-shirt. Yet for all this flash, the Clippers at times still look suspiciously like a team that is more style than substance. This is so even though their impressive start to the season continued with a 107-100 victory over Miami, which looked like many defending champions look in November -- like they can't wait for April. LeBron James played again like a MVP, but Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who begged out of the Olympics because they need the rest and minor surgery, still looked weary, combining to make just 5 of 29 shots. Nevertheless, the Clippers have begun the season beating Miami, Memphis, the Lakers and San Antonio, lending an air of legitimacy to their push to be included amongst NBA title contenders. And yet watching them play, it's easy to wonder how this is going to play in the end, especially when watching the ball in the hands of the mesmerizing Crawford, who once again carried the scoring load for Los Angeles with 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Crawford is a thrill to watch, the way he dribbles the ball between his legs -- and others in the case of De Colo -- and turns defenders around. Ray Allen, who might have taken his spot with the Clippers but canceled his visit when he decided to join the Heat, looked like he had aged 10 years trying to guard Crawford. Allen looked hopeless -- and often over his shoulder -- as he waited (pleaded?) for help. But Crawford's play also looked like it was meant for Rucker Park, and as surely as he helped shoot the Clippers into a huge lead -- a couple of poor decisions, launching a 28-footer and traveling, nearly gave Miami life down the stretch. "Jamal played great," Miami forward Shane Battier said. "He hit a bunch of shots that when you draw them up, you hope guys take them. If he hits them, you tip your cap and move on. They were spectacular shots. As a defender, they're shots you don't mind a guy taking." Crawford would do well to watch and learn from Chris Paul, who made the little plays most of the game -- controlling the pace, handing out 10 assists and notching four steals. But he also turned the game late in the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers over his good friend James, and then getting to the line for a pair of free throws. Suddenly, the Clippers, locked in a taught game, owned a 10-point lead. "CP3 is the guy that stirs the drink," Battier said. In some ways, the Clippers are following in Miami's steps -- albeit with down-sized expectations. Just as James transformed what was possible for the Heat, Paul has done the same for the Clippers. Now, that the Clippers core -- Paul, Griffin, Bledsoe, Jordan and the still injured Chauncey Billups -- are back for a second season, the increased familiarity and the abrupt end of last season with a second-round sweep by San Antonio may provide the requisite experience and motivation. "The big thing for us was just learning our game, and learning each other a little more and being more confident as a group," Wade said. "We wanted it. We came off losing in the championship and even though it was a shortened season, we came back with the mindset that no matter what we want to put ourselves in the position of getting back to the Finals." The Clippers believe they have upgraded their bench enough to follow suit -- and certainly Crawford adds a more dynamic scorer off the bench than Mo Williams. Ryan Hollins and Matt Barnes have brought energy and bite, enough to table concerns for now about whether Lamar Odom will be able to work himself into a contributing role. "Top to bottom, this team is more talented than the one we had in Boston," said Hollins, a reserve for the Celtics when they lost to Miami in last year's seven-game Eastern Conference Finals. "But we're missing the little things right now." In the coming months, especially for a team that has played just one game away from Los Angeles, there will be challenges ahead and then the playoffs. For the Clippers, it's likely to be those little things, the simple rather than the spectacular, which ultimately define where it ends.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant presents Mission: 5-part series on homelessness in LA

It’s a known fact that Los Angeles has the highest population of homelessness in the U.S. Lakers leading man, Kobe Bryant has started a foundation to combat that. Mission: Kobe Bryant is a 5-part series that shows life on Skid Row through some of the inhabitants eyes. Bryant takes you there and stops by the LA Mission where he speaks to four men seeking to improve their lives...

On crutches, Mike D'Antoni takes over the Lakers

Although Mike D'Antoni is still on crutches after his recent knee surgery, he's already at work with the Los Angeles Lakers. D'Antoni coached his first practice with his new team Thursday, four days after the Lakers hired him to replace Mike Brown. The former Knicks and Suns coach had knee replacement surgery earlier this month, delaying his arrival to take over the...

Steve Nash Talks About His Friend, Mike D’Antoni

Nash is super excited to have Coach D’Antoni on his squad again. He took some questions from reporters about the acquisition and had the following to say on the topic: “I never would’ve predicted him being here as we get a chance to work together again, especially here with this team. I’m thrilled, but definitely shocked as well. I didn’t see it coming. Everything has happened...

Fashion Glance: Clippers DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin & Matt Barnes post game

The Clippers are legit. I told you in preseason how much of a factor their bench would be. In their game Wednesday night against the Miami Heat, that fact was yet again illustrated with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul heating it up and Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe putting the stamp on it. The Clippers [...]

Kobe Bryant presents Mission: Kobe Bryant- a 5-part series on homelessness in LA

  “Skid Row is literally a few blocks away [from the Staples Center], but it’s not something that really registers, it’s something that you kind of look over, because homelessness has been a part of our culture for so many years, it’s just something that kind of fades in the background without you really driving [...]

D'Antoni expects to put Lakers in title hunt

New Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said he will be a failure at the Staples Center if he doesn’t put his new team in the title hunt. "I'm going to do everything I can do to win a championship," D'Antoni told KSPN-AM 710 on Tuesday. "If we're not at least in the hunt, a serious hunt, then I've failed as a head coach. I'm comfortable...

Magic not a fan of the D'Antoni hire, Jim Buss in general

Magic Johnson is no longer a part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, but he's still an influential figure in LA and the NBA community in general. When Mike Brown was fired, Johnson went on the most public of public crusades to get Phil Jackson hired. When that didn't work out, Johnson took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction in Jackson not getting hired (H/T to Kurt...
TOSS IT UP

Kobe finds Howard for alley-oop slam

Although the San Antonio Spurs were able to fend off the Los Angeles Lakers by the score of 84-82, they weren't exactly able to stop this alley-oop connection from Kobe Bryant to Dwight Howard. The alley-oop happened in the first quarter of play as Kobe found Dwight with a beautiful lob pass that went over the head of Spurs defender Danny Green: Kobe finished the game with...

D'Antoni Arrives In Los Angeles, Debut Expected For Sunday

Mike D'Antoni arrived to Los Angeles on Wednesday and met with Mitch Kupchak.

Spurs edge Lakers, who await D'Antoni's arrival

LOS ANGELES -- There is BC and there is AD, but is there BD'A? In a state of flux between former head coach Mike Brown and future head coach Mike D'Antoni, the Los Angeles Lakers could not send interim head coach Bernie Bickerstaff off on a high note. If, in fact, Bickerstaff coached his last game for Los Angeles. The San Antonio Spurs won a back-and-forth battle with...

Heat-Clippers Preview

LeBron James' lowest scoring average is against the Los Angeles Clippers. James struggled to score in last season's lone meeting against the Clippers heading into Wednesday night's matchup at Staples Center for the Miami Heat. The three-time league MVP is averaging 23.1 points in 17 lifetime games versus Los Angeles (5-2). He missed 12 of 19 shots for 23 points in last...

Another Episode of "As The Lakers Turn"

Let's review what we have seen in our latest episode of "As the Lakers Turn," the ever popular soap opera starring the Los Angeles Lakers. First we saw the team fire head coach Mike Brown on Friday, and it seemed to be a forgone conclusion Phil Jackson was going to be hired as the man in charge of  leading them to the promised land. Then came Sunday night-Monday morning...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.