USA TODAY Sports
The shorthanded Timberwolves were just outmatched from the start.
Clipper ships were built to be as fast as possible. They featured massive, numerous sails and sharp-prowed, lean hulls that gradually got narrower and narrower to the point that late generation Clippers were in danger of capsizing by doing simple, routine things. Like sailing in straight lines.
The fundamental idea of the Clipper ship was to get trade goods from one place to another as fast as possible. They were all the rage in the early-to-mid 19th century, first as links between Britain and trade colonies, then almost exclusively as 'smuggler' ships to run tea and opium out of China.
Although used primarily for trade, Clipper ships also found retrofitted use as interdictors, as a well-crewed Clipper could chase down basically any other ship of any size. The military role of the Clipper started in the War of 1812 and lasted all the way until January 17, 2013, when the Los Angeles Clippers took to the seas against the swarthy Timberwolves and went
To give some true perspective to just how outmatched the Puppies were tonight, let's take a look at some numbers. When S-n-P did his Harden-to-Houston rundown, he detailed those 'teams in our peer group', like the Rockets. Other teams considered in our orbit right now are the Raptors, Blazers, Hornicans, And Mavs (you'll notice that 3 of those 4 have beaten us pretty badly already. One of them
But here's the kicker: also in our orbit....
|Clippers||Matt Barnes||Eric Bledsoe||Jamal Crawford||Lamar Odom||Ronny Turiaf||Willie Green|
|Wolves||Andrei Kirilenko||Nikola Pekovic||Luke Ridnour||Alexey Shved||Kevin Love||JJ Barea|
...is the Clippers' bench. Their bench. The LAC 6 man zoo crew is right on par with the top six 2013 puppies (by WP). That's why they're the best team in the NBA and that's why we had no chance tonight. It didn't matter that Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups were in suits and ties. Their whole starting lineup could have been out and they'd still have been on par with us.
Think about that. Seriously.
I'm not sure what else this team can do. It'll take a few miracle recoveries and probably a miracle trade to get this team into the playoffs at this point. Yes, this team can be scary good over a full 82 when healthy and performing to potential, but we obviously don't have that kind of time, and every loss is one more step forward for other teams that are rapidly catching up (Mavs) or surging ahead (Jazz, Blazers, Lakers).
The Wolves are sinking fast, if not already sunk. We didn't have a chance against the Clippers with Blake Griffin, but if we'd have trouble topping them even if they didn't....well....
- The Pups started Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams tonight, hoping that DWill in particular would recapture the magic he's had against LAC before. Didn't really go our way this time.
- Pekovic: 1-8. Not going to win many Love-less games like that.
- The Hobbit channeled the Force tonight for 21 points on over 50% shooting without attempting a single free throw. That goods. A Force channeling Hobbit leading your team in scoring? That's not-so-good.
- Kirilenko went for 15-5-2 and 4 steals. The team might be a wreck, but he keeps holding up his end of the bargain. But on nights like tonight, one sure wishes he had more of a scorer's mentality.
- Blake Griffin. Watch out below.
- Although I have noticed this season that Griffin seems to have lost interest in rebounding. I saw it statistically starting in December and confirmed it with my own eyes tonight. I'm not sure exactly what it is. Sometimes he pulled a reverse Love, forgoing boxing out to start sprinting down the floor early. But a few times he just flat out didn't do anything.
- Barnes, Crawford and Bledsoe get all the spotlight, but Lamar Odom is really the guy making the Clipper bench work. The guy balances their floor, does a lot of the setup work, and makes a massive impact defensively (LAC is 11 points better/100 possessions with him) He's not back to LAL form and he probably never will be, but even so, he's been as key to the Clippers' success as anyone not named Chris Paul.
- Grant Hill is alive!
- This is your daily reminder: the Wolves might not make the playoffs, but they'll still go a long ways handing Williams/Stiemer minutes to Reddick/Birdman.
- I'm not sure anyone beats the Clippers at this point. The only logical matchups (Thunder, Grizz, Heat) are all going to have problems over 7 games with LAC's depth, and Miami has a very very big problem on defense. Maybe the Spurs? Timmy is playing some serious ball for an 80 year old, I guess.
It'd be nice to say 'at least it's over with', but we see these guys again in just two weeks, when they kick of a brutal February that includes New York, San Antonio, Memphis, Utah, Oklahoma, Portland, and the Lakers twice.