Nick Young scored his 29 points on 10-for-18 shooting with four three-pointers. … In his second game with the Sixers, Jeremy Pargo scored 10 points in 23 minutes. … Jrue Holiday finished the game with 10 points and nine assists. He had six assists in the first quarter. … Chris Paul got his 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting and 11 assists in just 24 minutes. … The Clippers shot 58.7 percent from the field, which is the best mark against the Sixers this season.
There was no secret about the Clippers’ offensive game plan on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Whether it came on a fast break, a quick drive through the paint or with just a simple backdoor cut, the Clippers were going to the rim.
Oh yes, Lob City was in the house on Monday night.
“It was the most impressive performance against us I’ve seen all year,” Sixers head coach Doug Collins said.
Led by 21 points and 11 assists from All-Star Chris Paul as well as 20 points, nine rebounds and a handful of highlight-reel dunks from Blake Griffin, the Clippers rolled to a 107-90 victory over the Sixers (see Instant Replay).
In the fourth quarter, the Clippers led by as many as 32 points before the Sixers made it somewhat respectable at the end.
“It was like they practiced on us,” said Nick Young, who led the Sixers with a season-high 29 points. “They were throwing everything up and they hit us first. We have to respond better than we did.”
With the loss the Sixers finished the eight-game homestand with a 5-3 record, and close out the unofficial first half of the season on Wednesday night in Milwaukee. After a week off, the Sixers open the second half in Minnesota where they might have key offseason acquisition Andrew Bynum back in the lineup.
But then again, maybe they won’t (see story).
Either way, there will be several players from the Sixers immortalized on posters depicting dunks from Griffin and DeAndre Jordan from Monday night’s game. Most of those plays occurred during a stretch in the third quarter when the Clippers went on a 15-3 run and put the icing on top of a game that had already been decided.
Of course, there’s more to the story than just the dunks and the highlights. Actually, all one needed to know about Monday night’s game came during an 81-second stretch starting from the 10:28 mark of the second quarter. There, with the Sixers barely hanging on and trailing by seven, veteran Jamal Crawford buried a 15-footer for two of his 20 points.
On the next trip up the floor, the Sixers committed their seventh turnover of the game, which led to a four-shot possession with three offensive rebounds for the Clippers. When Eric Bledsoe hit a long three-pointer after that third offensive rebound, the Clippers’ lead ballooned to 12 points and the Sixers never got closer.
That was it.
From that point on the Clippers put on a show with the dunks, flashy passes on backdoor cuts and strong takes to the rim. The Sixers had no answer nor did they put up much resistance.
“Imagine two Thad Youngs out there and one is 7-feet tall and 260 and the other is 6-foot-9,” Collins said. “That’s the kind of athleticism they have. And then they come off the bench with Lamar Odom and he can do the same things. All of their big guys can get out and be very, very aggressive. They swarmed us, they turned us over, they got us on our heels and we never recovered.”
The trick now for the Sixers is to quickly put Monday night’s game behind them and focus on Wednesday night’s tilt in Milwaukee. At 22-28, the Sixers are three games behind the Bucks (who also lost Monday) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. So for as rough as the first half of the season has been without Bynum, along with big injuries to seemingly every player on the roster, the Sixers are still hanging around.
Nevertheless, the fear for Collins is that his players could “check out” early and allow their thoughts to wander about the upcoming All-Star break. Something like that could prove to have lasting affects given that the Bucks already have beaten the Sixers twice this season and could wrap up the season series with a win on Wednesday.
If both clubs are tied for the last playoff spot at the end of the season, the tiebreaker is head-to-head record.
“It’s over with. Whatever happened, happened,” said Jrue Holiday after his 4-for-14 shooting night. “It’s the last game and even though we didn’t come to play today, we will be ready for the next game.”
Collins said there is no point to even deconstructing Monday night’s loss. The Clippers were just too good and the Sixers had no answers.
“We can’t look at this,” Collins said. “There are times when teams come in and play great. We have to go to Milwaukee and we have to play. Let’s not check out for All-Star week. Let’s go to Milwaukee and let’s play. That’s what we have to do.”
A win on Wednesday could send the Sixers into the break just two games out in the playoff race.