Originally posted on NBA 24/7 365  |  Last updated 12/20/11

Clippers 114 @ Lakers 95: The most exciting preseason game ever played?  Quite possibly.  Lob City ran amok on the poor Lakers tonight, who could do absolutely nothing but watch as DeAndre Jordan repeatedly hurled the ball through the rim with the utmost authority.  The abuse wasn’t limited to that end of the floor, either.  I believe it was early in the second half when the allegedly-rejuvinated Kobe Bryant drove to the rack and went for a left-handed dunk.  Next thing he knew he was layed out on the floor, grimacing in pain.  Thing is, he wasn’t fouled.  DeAndre Jordan had just denied him in cold-blooded fashion.  I know it’s just preseason, but this had to be a humiliating moment for the Mamba…

 

Kobe Bryant does not get tossed like that.  Going up for a dunk off of one foot will put you a in position to be knocked off balance, but that’s just an embarassing play to be on Kobe’s end of no matter how you spell it out.  Bryant looked like a boy going up against a man, which makes the play a perfect microcosm of the game.  The Lakers looked like boys playing against men all night ling.  The Clippers simply excercised their physical authority over, and over, and over again until the Lakers had been handily defeated.

Again, I know it’s just preseason.  I’m not trying to tell you that this is a good indicator of how the Clippers stack up with the Lakers, because it’s not.  The Clippers had a special buzz around their team tonight.  It was just days ago that they, not the Lakers, brought in the game’s best point guard and a former finals MVP.  They’re young, they’re excited, and they took the floor with a level of inspiration that’s rarely seen in an exhibition game on any level.  From a Laker perspective, they got caught up in the perfect storm.  The Clippers would’ve annihilated any competition tonight.

So, I’m throwing the result of this game out the window.  Does that mean I’m not enthusiastic about the Clippers, though?  HELL-F@CKING-NO!  The way they played in their first game together exceeded my wildest dreams, and I don’t care if it didn’t count for anything.  DeAndre Jordan’s first dunk (see the video below) caused me to litterally jump up off of my couch and scream out “oh my god!” in an empty room. 

Normally when I talk about jumping off the couch and screaming I’m glorifying the situation just a little bit.  This time I actually did it, no lie.  I jumped up off of my couch from a horizontal position and shouted after that first dunk.  Yeah, I’m a little crazier than the next man about my NBA basketball, but in this case, can you blame me?  That sh!t was explosive cubed.  Ridiculous squared.  UN. BE. LIEVABLE.

As you can see, my anger over Eric Gordon’s departure is rapidly waning.  I’m still going to miss watching EJ with the Clippers, but now that I’ve seen something take place on a basketball floor that my imagination couldn’t even conjure… I’m sorry, Eric; you’re my boy, but I can’t be upset about this trade anymore… not even a little bit. 

Overreaction?  Nah, this team is going to be awesome, and maybe the most exciting show on hardwood… ever.  Chris Paul looked like he’d been a Clipper his whole career.  Chauncey Billups was awesome at the two, and you already know how DeAndre Jordan was.  I hadn’t yet formulated an opinion on how a CP/Chauncey backcourt would work, but now that I’ve thought about it and watched them play together I love the pairing.  They’ll struggle on defense, but that’s an issue the Clippers will gladly live with for the time being.  I don’t think most point guards could play next to Paul as well as Chauncey will.  Billups will excell because he’s a brilliant basketball player and an outstanding spot-up shooter.  The key is his ability to be effective playing off of the ball.  I think his 23 points on 5-8 (with one miss being his off-glass lob to Griffin) show you the type of threat he can be playing his new position.  With Billups and Paul, the Clippers have two players who can get anywhere they want on the floor at any time.  When those same players also happen to be two of the smartest in the NBA, I can see that causing a serious problem for opposing defenses.

At this point you’re probably wondering how I’ve managed to type so many words about a Clipper game without even mentioning Blake Griffin.  Well, he didn’t look that good today.  I don’t think anyone cares that he went 4-11 in an exhibition game, but his level of activity being far lower than we’ve become accustomed to seeing may have raised a few concerns.  I don’t think it should’ve, though.  Look at it this way: what the Clippers have done by adding Chris Paul is thrown the most ball-dominant player in the league into their system.  Not only that, tonight they asked their players to go play a game with, what, one or two practices under their belt?  As great as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are, why would an adjustment period not be expected?  Blake Griffin has been the focal point of the Clipper offense for the entirety of his career.  As of tonight, he dropped down a spot.  That has nothing to do with who’s better between he and Paul, either.  It has everything to do with Chris Paul’s game.  Like I said, he’s the most ball-dominant player in the NBA.  He’s going to be initiating pretty much everything for the Clippers.  That’s a big change for Blake, who was the start and finish of a lot of possessions for last year’s squad.  You know how Blake led the league in assists from the PF position last season?  That’s because he was given the ball and asked to create a lot of action on his own.  With Chris Paul he’s going to be asked to do a lot less creation of offense… and that’s going to be weird for him at first.  However, once he and Paul learn to work together they’ll benefit from each other.  There’s no doubt in my mind that the league’s premier creator and finisher will bring out the best in each other… but why the f@ck would everything come to fruition at the drop of the Chris Paul hat?  This isn’t a video game.

I expect that it’s going to be a few weeks before the Clippers look like a cohesive unit (although they certainly looked like on tonight), and it’ll probably be months before they really hit their stride.  It may even require a complete season and training camp together for them to play at their best possible level.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Lob City won’t be either.

I’m very enthusiastic about the future of this Clipper team.  They’ve got a post presence, and elite point guard, size, experience, youth, athleticism, intelligence, and depth.  Depth; that’s another thing I wanted to talk about.  I’m guessing most assume that they’ll trade Mo Williams?  That may be the plan, but I think they ought to extensively test him in a sixth-man role first.  Let him try his hand at being the Jason Terry of this squad.  If he can provide consistent offense off the bench then he’s a valuable part of the team.  Trade Randy Foye for a little frontcourt depth and consider it a job well done.

And those are my thoughts on the Lob City Clippers.  I’m not even going to bother to talk about the Lakers… they’ll brush this off and do better next time.  Next time is Wednesday, by the way.  Same time, same place, and on NBAtv once again.  Do I really have to give you a reason to tune in?  You’d be a fool not to.

I’ll post my thoughts on tonight’s other games later.  This game called for it’s own extensive post.

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