Basketball at it's Finest. Also, other stuff. Sometimes.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Clip Show: A New Beginning (?)
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"Tech. No taunting."
David and Goliath. Washington Generals and the Globetrotters. The bullies from Kobra Kai versus Daniel-Son. The Fratellis vs the Goonies. You can use any imagery you want, but that fact is, the Miami Heat, winners of 9 straight and 20 of their last 21 games, rolled into Los Angeles to play the young buck Clippers with their chest puffed out, and left with their hat in their hands and their egos bruised, the result of a rousing 111-106 Clips victory. Miami's Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh had the pedigree: 17 All Star games, 2 MVPs, a Finals MVP, 1 Larry O'Brien trophy, a shot at a historic road win streak, and a foolish nickname (LeBron, "Heatles" is a terrible, terrible idea); all the The Clips have is a FIBA World Games medal and a couple of Rookie-Of-The-Month accolades on it's mantel. But from the opening tip, you just FELT a shift. Watching the Clips fly around the court like attack dogs (ok, attack labradors, but still), seeing the young legs of the Heat 3 get overwhelmed in the opening minutes by the young-ER legs of the Clip 5- the box score is going to show Blake Griffin's collossal 24 point, 14 rebound, 6 assist line and Eric Gordon's 26-5-6 as the big story, but best believe that Eric Bledsoe, Al-Farouq Aminu and DeAndre Jordan's speed, energy and D off the bench were JUST as vital- it was enthralling. As long as I can remember, the Clips have been, in a word, pathetic. Even the blip in the early 2000s when Lamar Odom, Darius Miles, and Q Richardson were clowning, dunking, and ignoring their coach had an air of desperate optimism, like a drowning man clutching at straws and convincing himself that they'd float him to shore. Even earlier this year through all the hullaballoo of Blake literally exploding in Mosgov the Knick's face, we glossed over the fact that they LOST the game. But the electricity tonight was different; the Clips didn't win because of a flukey shot, or with the other team losing a Big Gun in the 1st quarter to injury. The Clippers stood and stared down the same juggernaut that had steamrolled Lakers in the same building about a week ago. Blake Griffin bullied through a defense that refused to give up the adrenaline-pumping dunk, 3 or 4 non-calls, and a suprisingly mouthy Mario Chalmers (Yeah. You read that. Mario Chalmers). Baron Davis shot waaaaay to much, but you can't hate on 20 points, 9 dimes, and 2 incredibly clutch buckets in the 4th. Boom Dizzle alternately set up Blake n' Co., scored off of crafty drives and long Js, and tried to gack the game up with "hero mode" pull ups and blown lay-ups. Eric Gordon picked his spots, running through and shooting over Wade when it counted. Bledsoe (4 dimes, 2 steals, sblocks(!), a steal, 2 points) was everywhere, dropping dimes and bringing the crowd to a roar when he chased doen Chalmers LBJ-style to wipe out a fastbreak, and by stuffing a loafing LBJ lay-up attempt straight up. DeAndre Jordan was hit with foul trouble, but in his 25 minutes he was pivotal to clogging the middle on D and keeping Bosh in check until the Heat were playing catch-up. Aminu continued to fill in the gaps and give Clip fans hope for the future; 4-4 for 9 points and a 2 critical blocks.
In the big scheme of things, I know, this is just one game in the doldrums of the season; when we look in the history book, there won't be an asterisks. But seeing this young team that was such a disheveled mess as they stumbled to 1-12, then 5-21, take the big blows of the Miami Triumvirate (Wade, Bron, and Bosh combined for a staggering 84) and actually make the plays to win. It wasn't always beautiful backetball, but their youthful energy and all-out effort showed glimpses of a talented team under the recent ineptitude.It was obvious the Heat were in foreign territory down 9 late in the 4th; Wade shot a 3 off of the SIDE of the backboard, and Bosh inexplicably channeled his inner Jesus Shuttlesworth, jacking up 2 horrible 3s in the closing minutes. When Griffin threw down a thunderous baseline dunk off of a slick Baron drop-off, then stared down Mario Chalmers through the howl of the delerious Clip crowd, even though there was still a few minutes in this tight game, you knew it was over. Daniel-son had Crane-Kicked the blond jerk. THe Goonies had found Chester Copperpot's gold. It's only one game, but history shows that sometimes it just takes one game to turn a season from a lost cause to something to pull for. Now if only Donald Sterling would get lost in quicksand or struck by a meteor, the Clips faithful could really havr reason for hope in the years to come. Never know, it MAY happen; like that one dude said: Karma is a....ah forget it. BEAT. THE. HEAT.