Unfortunately, the Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter of Friday night's game to hand the Clippers their second (straight) loss of the season.
Despite three quarters of highly animated play from both teams, the Clippers reverted back to old, poor form in the fourth quarter—missing shot after shot and after shot, not getting to the rim or the line, and allowing the Bulls to outscore them (overall) 29-12 with a stopped clock.
Now, on the positive side, missing Billups (sore groin...um), DeAndre (only playing 26 minutes due to early foul trouble—when he will stop making horrible, stupid fouls like a high school player?), Bledsoe, and being forced to have Brian Cook in the rotation, it seems like these early season woes aren't too much to worry about. With the team's second highest scorer back on the floor (Billups) and Jordan keeping out of foul trouble, the Clippers truly do look like serious contenders against these marquee, gelled teams.
Breakdown of the Positives:
Field Goal Percentage:
Clippers: 41-80 (51.3%)
Bulls: 39-78 (50%)
Three-Point Field Goals:
Clippers: 7-15 (46.7%)
Bulls: 7-17 (41.2%)
Clearly, CP3 is doing his job, getting all of the players on the floor involved. And, playing against another elite point guard and excellent defensive team, it's good news that the Clippers were still able to create offensively.
The Clippers were much more active defensively tonight, with CP3 nabbing four steals. In truth, they only seemed to slack defensively towards the end of the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter when the Bulls drained 5/5 three-point shots.
Again, the Clipps did a great job of protecting the ball, keeping pace with the defenders of the best record in the NBA.
Fast Break Points:
Points in the Paint:
Breakdown of the Negatives:
There's no reason why a front court of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin shouldn't be leading the league in rebounds. Just like the Spurs game, the Clipps need to learn to box out and crash the boards. Oh, it would also be helpful if DeAndre was in the game (and not Brian Cook, who seems to have developed a jumping problem).
So where did the Clippers lose this game? On nearly every level they kept pace with the Bulls, a team favored by many to at least make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Just based on the stat-sheet, they lost the game in rebounding and fouls—two things, I believe, will start to diminish as the team melds together, as other stat-lines continue to improve. All things considered—and with the impressive amount of effort put in by all the Clippers players—this was a good loss, and sign of good things to come.