Is It Too Early For Clippers’ Fans To Freak Out?

Is lackadaisical the correct word to describe the Clippers’ opening game performance, or would something like unmotivated be more correct? The bottom line is that the media-darling Clippers took the underrated Lakers for granted, and stumbled through an embarrassing evening reminiscent of bygone Clippers’ seasons, where thoughts of success were found only in the minds of team employees, and those quickly slipped away after only a single, down-to-earth regulation game, or two. While this current Clippers’ team is definitely significantly more talented those those teams of past years, it has a long way to go to prove it belongs in a league championship series.

The acquisition of J.J. Redick was supposed to have been one of the keys to put the Clippers over the top in the Western Conference this season. Last year, they waited all year for Chauncey Billups to come through at shooting guard, more often than not filling his

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spot with Willie Green until it was time for super-sixth-man Jamal Crawford. The big trade with Phoenix landed Jared Dudley, and he and Redick were both handed starting spots. Redick lived up to his pub, for about 10 minutes, hitting on five of his first six shots for 12 early points. He didn’t hit again for the entire game, however, finishing with 13 points. But he looked significantly better than Dudley, who couldn’t hit a barn door, scoring just five points, and who became a star matador on defense, waiving the likes of Xavier Henry and others on through to the basket.

DeAndre Jordan showed flashes of the type of player the Clippers need him to be, making a few nice plays on defense, scoring 17 points, and pulling down 11 boards, but he had defensive lapses, also often involving watching Henry run by him to the hoop, but mostly when Pau Gasol, Chris Kaman, and Jordan Hill were scoring many of their combined 37 points.

It is too early to freak out, but the team does have a lot to work on. One area is how to get their best new acquisition, Darren Collison, more minutes, without having to deny Chris Paul playing time. Collison’s tremendous speed and excellent defense (though still not Eric Bledsoe), combined with his early season lights-out shooting, should influence Doc to play the two together as much as possible.

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And what is any comment about what the Clippers need to work on without mentioning free-throw shooting? Jordan (42% lifetime) only went to the line for two shots, making one, and the team STILL only hit 57% from the line. Most of the blame for last night’s free-throw failure goes to Blake Griffin, who was three-of-ten, well under his bad lifetime 61 percentage.

The Clippers, with a game at Staples under their belt, have their home opener tomorrow night against the Warriors, who will have their own opener tonight against the visiting Lakers. This round-robin could say a lot if one team comes out either 2-0 or 0-2. Odds are all three will be 1-1, but that’s why they play the games.

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