Bernucca: Are red-hot Clippers too flawed for NBA Finals?

Jamal Crawford is one of the top flurry scorers in the league. Can he discern between a good shot and a bad shot?

Matt Barnes is a feisty player who is among the league leaders in technical fouls. Can he control his emotions in high-pressure situations?

Eric Bledsoe is among the most athletic guards in the NBA. Can he display the acumen to match?

Look, I’m not trying to be Scrooge here. In a league with way too many unwatchable teams, the Clippers are almost always worth the 2 1/2-hour sofa ride. Ralph Lawler’s trademark “Bingo!” is the text alert on my phone. And not only do I know who the Buffalo Braves are, I am old enough to have rooted for them.

The Clippers also have shown that they have an understanding of the small details. This season, they are 5-2 in games decided by six points or less and 18-0 when leading after three quarters. At some point, they also should be getting back Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill, savvy veterans who have stuck around in part due to their smarts.

So while the Clippers are running roughshod over the rest of the NBA in December, they should realize that it is an ideal time to work on things for May and June.

TRIVIA: Which player holds the record for the most points scored in a game played on Christmas? Answer below.

THE END OF CIVILIZATION AS WE KNOW IT: A second straight appearance here for Toronto Raptors big man Amir Johnson, who apparently considers his entire body to be a large canvas.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman, after a 100-68 loss at Detroit in which his team shot less than 33 percent and was held to its lowest total of the season:

“That was an embarrassment, and I apologize to our ownership and to our fans. I especially apologize to anyone who watched that entire game. I would have turned it off after the first five minutes.”

LINE OF THE WEEK: Paul Pierce, Boston vs. Cleveland, Dec. 19: 34 minutes, 13-16 FGs, 6-7 3-pointers, 8-8 FTs, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals, one block, one turnover, 40 points in a 103-91 win. Much was made of the 35-year-old Pierce becoming the oldest Celtic to score 40 points in a regulation game. But “The Truth” trumped triple-doubles by David Lee, Jordan Crawford and Joakim Noah because he was remarkably efficient (2.5 points-per-shot) and did a lot more than just score.

LINE OF THE WEAK: Jason Terry, Boston vs. Milwaukee, Dec. 21: 32 minutes, 1-15 FGs, 1-9 FTs, 1-1 FTs, one assist, four points in a 99-94 overtime loss. No rebounds, blocks or steals – or even fouls or turnovers – for “The Jet,” who did nothing but shoot and shoot poorly.

TRILLION WATCH: An outstanding week for the heroes of zeros, particularly Warriors forward Richard Jefferson, who had a 5 trillion vs. New Orleans on Tuesday and a 4 trillion vs. Charlotte on Friday. Jazz forward DeMarre Carroll also had a 5 trillion at Orlando on Tuesday. Honorable mention to Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who had a 4 trillion opposite Jefferson’s 5 trillion, and Spurs forward Matt Bonner, who had a 4 trillion vs. New Orleans on Friday.

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  1. Metalo says

    It’s always sad to see the name of a Laker, forced into the body of a “Clippers” article. In this case, incorrectly, as Paul is far more competitive than Kobe. Willing to do ANYTHING, including sacrifice. Something Mamba will do as well, but very inconsistantly. Paul is ten times the leader Kobe will ever be. Kobe just has more size and physial talent. He’ll grind off and on. Paul will always grind.

  2. Larry Fleisher says

    I actually caught most of that Bobcats-Hornets game for work related purposes and this was 24 hours after covering the Bobcats-Nets game in person. Let’s just say, I needed a major bad basketball detox, though Eric Gordon’s season debut was at least entertaining.

  3. Gershom says

    No they do not have to get every single possession like the spurs do. Thats why we lead league in creating turnovers. I dont understand medias man crush on spurs & popovich…or urs.

    And u said it urself…clips lead league in turnover differential. And using gortats opinion as if it matters…he doesnt like lobs because he was the victim of the lobs. I dont understand logic of this article. I do think we wont see how good clips r in playoif UNTIL they play in playoffs…

  4. Alan says

    some pretty silly thoughts in this article. your fears of what might happen won’t happen – likely other things, if any.

  5. Anthony says

    It’s funny how it seems you criticize CP3 for supposedly not having patience and trying to when the game for his team, but yet Kobe has been heralded for years for always forcing the issue…

  6. Cris says

    Some great points, but in close games this season and against the elite teams (Memphis, San Antonio, Miami) the Clippers have executed extremely well in the half court.

    A lot of the flashy play has come as a result of being up 10, sometimes 20 points and putting on a show for fans both home and away.

    Blake Griffin’s shot from 16-23 feet I believe is up over or near .450 for the season and Odom has been Griffin’s front court companion late in games — not Jordan.

    • says

      Don’t understand why you think this is biased. Clips are good – real good – but I believe for them to be serious about winning it all, in the postseason they have to get serious about every possession the way the Spurs do. Thanks for reading and happy holidays. CB

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