Okay, maybe more than a few. Felt a strong confidence dip, as the squad showed that they have some flaws. I'm shocked, shocked, I say. Good reality check. Even more sobering to read the Zach Lowe preview this morning, where he has the Cl...
Okay, maybe more than a few. Felt a strong confidence dip, as the squad showed that they have some flaws. I'm shocked, shocked, I say. Good reality check. Even more sobering to read the Zach Lowe preview this morning, where he has the Clippers in the second tier and behind the Grizzlies, and I could only nod my head and say he's not wrong about what the issues with the team are. But we'll see.
DJ was the headliner, and we got to see him react to all of this bluster and confidence-building. It was fun, but it's hardly sustainable, and even during the game we saw a dip as Robin Lopez, getting badly punked in the first 6 minutes, asserted himself and played tough and cleaned up a lot of offensive glass (and what about Sideshow's little free throw move, where he faces the bench with one foot in and one foot out of the circle, then turns and takes the ball and fires it up with no touch or finesse.) There's plenty of film for DJ to look at about positioning and reacting, if you fast forward past the highlight reel plays. He has said repeatedly that he only cares about defense and rebounding first, second, and third, but you could tell that his ease and success on offense turned his head a little bit, and he lost a tad of energy and focus on defense. He tried to do stuff on offense a couple of times, which isn't bad, but in the cases where nothing was there right away it'd be better for him to move the ball and get some flow going. But his conditioning was phenomenal. It was pretty amusing to see Mike Smith turn his Maggette mancrush goggles towards DJ, pushed giddily along by Ralph. Lopez can't shoot like his brother, but he isn't chopped liver when it comes to 5 spot athleticism, and DJ showed that he's at a higher level, that he has Dwight Howard chops at this point. DJ's ability to run the floor and make plays was mostly highlighted, however, by the comparison to the plodding Mulligan. But we'll get to that in a second. Sigh.
Solid A, however, on the most important element of the game: DJ's free throws and stroke. Missed the A+ when the 5th one didn't go. The adjustment is that he's doing a single dribble, and getting right into it. Maybe it short-cuts thinking about it. But combined with the blocks and rebounds and strong finishes, it adds up to a stunning display of firepower. Getting off to a fast start, putting made shots in the bank so that he can afford some misses, is crucial, and this was beyond hopes and expectations. Just showing an ability to make 4 in a row at all makes a big difference, completely the other side of the coin to the weakness of missing them in big bunches. DJ's preseason FT percentage is a big issue for the Clips. And Griffin seemed to be stalling for a half-beat at the top of his motion, but they went in. The Clips shot 83% from the stripe, and that included a missed T by Darren Collison, who stepped up instead of Crawford.
The Mulligan certainly lived up to his name, didn't he? Let's just do that one over. When they go in we're going to love this guy, but last night, not so much. You can't say it's a lost cause after one preseason game, because shooters have to find game rhythm. It was funny how Milph got into the whole thing about what ever happened to taking it easy over the summer and showing up to training camp to get in shape? Ralph piped in that it wasn't that long ago that things were that way. The very high level of conditioning evidenced by DJ is a huge difference maker, and it was reminiscent of FElton's stunning leap before the O5-06 campaign. None of the shooters, Dudley, Crawford, and even the magnificent Willie Green looked especially sharp from deep.
I think part of the problem for Mullens was on the catch. He was wide open but he put the ball up quickly and didn't seem to have a clean grip very often. It was kind of nice to see him pass up the shot in the second half more than a few times. The issue is that other side of the coin from DJ's fast start free throw shooting: Mully's a