It was a game that needs to be sent directly to Adam Silver’s office for immediate review, allowing the NBA commissioner to eliminate intentional fouling for what he might term “basketball reasons.”
The Clippers persevered through the ugly display Thursday night at Staples Center, beating San Antonio, 119-115, even after the Spurs sent Clippers center DeAndre Jordan to the free-throw line on purpose on 12 occasions.
Here are five takeaways from a game that will never be re-watched purely for entertainment purposes:
1. If this Clippers team shows up four times in any playoff series, it advances to the next round. They played with energy, shared the ball, focused on defense and executed in the final minutes. It was a blueprint for beautiful basketball (minus all the intentional fouling) and exactly what the Clippers needed to beat a team as smart and disciplined as the defending NBA champions.
2. What’s the name of that guy who had elbow surgery again? We jest, of course, but Blake Griffin’s absence has become a little more palatable now that the Clippers have won three of their first four games without their All-Star forward. They have another winnable game against Sacramento on Saturday before the schedule takes a tougher turn with games against Memphis, Houston and Chicago next week.
3. Jordan’s poor free-throw shooting isn’t hurting the team much. It would help if he could make at least 50% of his free throws after being intentionally fouled, but the most important thing is that the Clippers continue to get the stops they need on defense to prevent teams from making big runs while sending Jordan to the line. Jordan made nine of 24 free throws after being intentionally fouled and 10 of 28 overall.
4. Jamal Crawford quickly got over the uncertainty surrounding his status. The super sub scored 26 points and made a crucial three-pointer from the corner in the final minute to help the Clippers survive in their first game after the trade deadline. Crawford’s name was the one among the Clippers that kept popping up in trade rumors, some of which were news to Coach Doc Rivers. “Some of the rumors I heard about Jamal, it was the first time I heard about them when someone told me about them,” Rivers said. “I just think Jamal is a terrific player and because he’s terrific and he has a very good contract, I think people assume stuff that wasn’t there.”
5. Glen Davis is the energizer the Clippers need in games like this. What Dahntay Jones does for the Clippers from the bench, Davis does on the court. He is constantly exhorting the crowd to turn up the volume and making energy plays to get his teammates to ratchet up their effort. What’s needed most is for Davis to do this more consistently instead of once a week.