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.