Welp, that was predictable. The Clippers lost Blake Griffin to a staph infection and were routed by the Oklahoma City Thunder, 131-108, Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. The Clippers learned what it might be like to play without Griffin for an extended period: Their offense didn’t have the same punch, their defense couldn’t stop a rookie named Mitch McGary and they were outrebounded by nearly a 2-1 margin. Yeah, it could get real ugly if Griffin doesn’t return sooner rather than later from the staph infection in his right elbow that is expected to sideline him for 10 days to six weeks. The more definitive timetable the Clippers expect to receive after Griffin’s surgery Monday in Los Angeles will be more significant than anything else that happens before the All-Star break.
2. Spencer Hawes helped fill the void briefly: Hawes had a nice flurry of shot-making in the first half, scoring 17 points to tie his season high for points in a game. But he went scoreless in the second half. And perhaps even more concerning: He grabbed only one rebound for the entire game, not sufficient for someone who stands 7 feet 1. “They made an adjustment,” Hawes said of the Thunder’s defense against him in the second half. “On the weak side, they kind of stayed with me a little bit more and then on the ball they made an adjustment and I have to do a better job of countering that.”
3. Jamal Crawford’s shooting slump continued: Crawford continues to score big off the bench but his efficiency has verged into Kobe Bryant territory over the last month. Crawford has made more than half his shots once in a game since Dec. 17 and has had poor shooting stats in every month since November. He shot 37.4% in December (including 31.5% on three-pointers), 34.8% in January (30.9% on threes) and is shooting 36.2% in February (29.6% on threes). The numbers could jeopardize his chance to win a record third sixth man of the year award unless they improve soon.
4. Rookie C.J. Wilcox quietly had a nice game: He made all four of his shots and finished with a career-high 10 points in only nine minutes. Wilcox has played sparingly this season, but his numbers project well to increased use. His per-36-minute statistics translate to 18.3 points per game, which should give the coaching staff reason to consider extending his minutes. Coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers may consider signing a guard to offset the team’s rash of injuries, but part of the solution may already be on the roster if Wilcox can play as well as he did Sunday.
5. The Clippers hope their Grammy Awards trip ends on a high note: They are one loss away from finishing their longest trip of the season 2-6, which seemed almost inconceivable two weeks ago. The Clippers gave away games against New Orleans and Brooklyn before being blown out by Cleveland, Toronto and Oklahoma City. A victory over Dallas on Monday would provide a much-needed confidence boost before returning to Staples Center to face Houston on Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star break. “All it takes is for us to win one and we’re rolling,” Clippers guard Austin Rivers said. “We just got to get that [Monday] because the schedule doesn’t get any easier.”