With Chris Paul out of the lineup, the Los Angeles Clippers have been heavily reliant upon Blake Griffin, who has proven he’s much more than one of the most vicious dunkers in the NBA. On Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, Griffin didn’t ease up on the throttle even slightly.
In 37 minutes, Griffin tortured the Bobcats’ power forward combo of Josh McRoberts and Cody Zeller who simply couldn’t hang with Griffin’s underrate post skill and his raw tools. The Clippers big man finished the night with 27 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal on solid 11-20 shooting from the floor and hitting five of his six attempts from the foul line.
However, the Bobcats weren’t seemingly focused on shutting down Griffin. Sure, they weren’t going to just let him throw down tomahawks all night down an empty lane, but Charlotte—particularly in the second half—made a concerted effort to shut down the perimeter threats for the Clippers.
While the Bobcats’ offense regressed in the final two quarters after a solid start, but their defense really stepped up in terms of eliminating the effectiveness of both J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford. After the duo combined for 21 points on just 15 shot attempts in the first half, the Bobcats clamped down and limited them to just 14 points on 20 shot attempts in the second half. That defensive effort helped the Bobcats score a big 95-91 win over a playoff team.
Over the end of December and start of January, this Bobcats team was ailing a bit and seemed to be trailing off, losing eight of nine games. Since Jan. 14, though, Charlotte has won four of their last six now, with one of those losses coming in overtime to the defending champion Miami Heat.
The Bobcats are still in the playoff picture in the East, but this team has the defensive caliber to move up and possibly finish around .500 this year. The key, for the next week and a half at least, is staying afloat with Kemba Walker out and maintaining their defensive efficiency. This win over the Clips is a fine way to get that going.