If I could sum up the Los Angeles Clippers‘ season in one game, tonight’s 105-104 victory against the Utah Jazz would be it. The team is what author Robert Louis Stevenson would call a problem in his book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde : they have a dual personality that is as frustrating as it is exciting.
Let’s start with Dr. Jekyll, the proper gentleman. This version of the Clippers didn’t even bother to show up in the first half, because obviously that would be rude to try to stop the Jazz from their victory. They very politely allowed the Jazz to shoot 66% from the field, not bothering to play much defense. In fact, they only had one defensive rebound in the entire first quarter. One. Even in the third quarter, the Clippers still appeared as if they were in for another tough loss in an infamously tough arena when they allowed the Jazz to lead them by as much as 14 points.
But then the relentless, scrappy Dr. Jeckyll-version of the Clippers showed up in the fourth quarter. Four of the”second team” players started the quarter- Barnes, Odom, Crawford,and Bledsoe- building the energy that allowed the Clippers to come back. In the fourth quarter, they held the Jazz to 41% from the field and finally decided to play the boards, out rebounding the Jazz 15-8. Their defense forced some bad shots and drew a couple offensive fouls that allowed the momentum to swing in their direction. And I won’t even mention DeAndre Jordan’s HUGE block. The Clippers also decided to take advantage of their ability to move the ball down low, outscoring the Jazz in the paint 36-14 in the second half.
For the Clippers, Blake Griffin led the team with a season-high 30 points and 11 rebounds. Jamal Crawford followed with 20 points, and Chris Paul put up 14 points and 9 assists.
For the Jazz, Mo Williams led the team with 20 points and 12 assists. Randy Foye followed the 19 points, and Gordon Hayward contributed 17 points and 5 rebounds.
Overall, this game shows the Clippers’ true personality: one that could either be really good or really bad. It was Mr. Hyde who led the Jazz by one point with 0.7 seconds left in the game, asserting his dominance and resilience. But very quickly, it was Mr. Hyde (or Chauncey Billups) who turned the ball over to the Jazz and allowed a last-second shot that could have allowed them to win the game. Luckily, it worked out in the Clippers’ favor.
In the end, the Clippers were able to pull out a win in Salt Lake City. Hopefully this hard-earned victory will pump them up for their home game against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. And please, Clippers, leave the personality disorder at home this time. It is exhausting.