You get what you deserve. We deserved to get beat. They played harder. -Vinny Del Negro
No better words can sum up how the the Los Angeles Clippers performed against the New Orleans Hornets in their 105-98 loss tonight at home. After a disappointing 1-3 road trip, the Clippers were looking for a strong homecoming. Instead, they came out flat in all areas of their game.
On offense, the Hornets were able to shut down pretty much everyone on the Clippers but Caron Butler and Chris Paul. Griffin had, by far, the worst game of his career, fouling out after being held to a career-low 4 points and 6 rebounds. Crawford, who still averages 18.6 points per game despite difficulty in recent games, was held to 8 points and 2 rebounds.
On defense, the Clippers were incapable of stopping the Hornets, who shot 60% from behind the 3-point line. Greivis Vasquez led the team with 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 10 assists. Ryan Anderson and Jason Smith followed with 17 points. This is the sixth game in which the Clippers have allowed 100 points or more. Having lost 5 of those 6 games, it seems as if defense is going to be key to a successful rest of the season.
Despite all the struggles, there was a burst of energy in the third quarter, which allowed the Clippers at one point to even the score 68-68. It was during this quarter of brilliance the Butler heated up, hitting 6 of his 9 3-pointers, a new franchise record. There was also some salty language and pushing exchanged between Smith and Butler. It was an entertaining quarter, but unfortunately for the Clippers, was fleeting.
Despite it all, Butler ended the game with 33 points and 6 rebounds. Paul followed with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists. But it just wasn’t enough to overcome the lack of energy that pervaded Staples Center. Hopefully, a tough practice tomorrow and a harsh talk from del Negro will reinvigorate the Clippers for their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. I sure hope so, as I will be in attendance. Bring your worst, Kevin Love. I’ll be watching.