Go figure. You take the great Chris Paul (kneecap) out of the Clippers lineup and they drop 99 on a very good defensive team. Eric Bledsoe (14 PTS, 4 AST, 3 REB, 2 STL) did a fine job filling in at PG and that talented L.A. bench did the rest, with 16 apiece from Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford. Without much fanfare, Grant Hill (8 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST in 17 minutes) has returned to make the second unit even deeper. Rudy Gay (personal) missed the game and no Memphis player came close to replacing him. Zach Randolph managed a double-double (15 & 12) but shot 5-for-16 as part of a team-wide malaise (30% for the night.)
Other January 14 Games
ORL @ WAS: Break up the Wizards! The return of John Wall (12 PTS, 6 AST in 19:49) seems to have inspired his teammates. Emeka Okafor (19 PTS, 11 REB) and Kevin Seraphin (18 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST, 3 BLK) more than made up for a quiet night from Nene (2 PTS in 15:46) and while the clock is ticking on the fantasy value of A.J. Price, he added 18 PTS, 6 AST and 2 STL. There was good news for Orlando despite the 29-point trouncing, as Glen Davis (13 PTS, 4 REB, 2 BLK in 17:44) returned (much sooner than expected) from his shoulder injury. Make sure Big Baby isn’t a free agent in your league. It was a brutal night for Arron Afflalo, who missed ten of 11 FG attempts and never got to the line.
CHA @ BOS: That was mostly the Rajon Rondo show — 17 PTS, 12 ATS, 10 REB for his third triple-double of the season — as the Celtics cruised to a sixth consecutive win. Avery Bradley had a season-high 16 and knocked down four 3-pointers. The only thing slowing down rookie Jared Sullinger (8 PTS, 5 REB) is foul trouble. For Charlotte, Ramon Sessions had 16 off the bench and Hakim Warrick (16 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL) has emerged as the #1 PF, though he’s best known for inconsistency.
ATL @ CHI: Yesterday I predicted that Chicago would turn up the defensive pressure and win a fairly low-scoring game, with Luol Deng (18 PTS) and Carlos Boozer (20 PTS, 13 REB) the keys. Never did I imagine that the Hawks would shoot 29%, score 20 points as a team in the entire first half and lose by 39. That’s called hitting rock bottom. Atlanta fans can point fingers at every player and coach Larry Drew, who may have already lost the room.