April 19, 2014

Cohesive Cavs Stun Complacent Clippers

Upon emerging from the trainer’s room, Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul spent approximately 15 minutes having a heated yet professional exchange with two of his assistant coaches, Robert Pack and Dean Demopoulos. Verging on animated, Paul appeared to be discussing specific plays, potentially mixing in some team philosophies, both contributing to their seven-point loss to the short-handed Cleveland Cavaliers.

Paul was forced to debate with assistant coaches, and later teammate Randy Foye, because their head coach Vinny Del Negro was long gone. The Clippers’ main man chastised his team for a complete lack of aggression, stating that they were out-manned by a team that happened to be on the second night of a back-to-back. Del Negro wouldn’t categorize the team’s effort as complacency — something that could have easily set in following the announcement of Kyrie Irving’s absence — but his team, on this night, was clearly the less physical.

“This is a game we should have came in here and won,” said Paul. “We obviosuly didn’t have the energy and that starts with me. It was as if we were the team that played last night – [the Cavs] came out and got us tonight.”

Adding to the complacency discussion is the fact that Paul was unaware of Irving’s absence until Ahmad Crump belted out the Cavaliers’ starting lineup. Instead, Paul was tasked with Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson, leading a unit with less top-to-bottom talent and athleticism to a win in front of more than 17,000 fans.

The attitude supplied by the Cavaliers may have merely caught the Clippers off guard. Admittedly, a west coast team tangled with a condensed schedule may not have had the fortune of seeing just how tough this current crop of Wine and Gold goes to battle every night. Gibson, in his first game back following a bout with infected neck tissue, would not only be placed into the starting lineup, but would provide several huge fourth-quarter plays when the game could have been had by either team. Take your pick: a strip on the defensive end, a go-ahead three-ball, or a handful of free throws which would ultimately put the game out of reach.

Anderson Varejao took multiple hard falls, the first of which looked as if it could end his evening. But once the fourth quarter arrived and Byron Scott appeared unwilling to let this one fall through his team’s fingers, the Big Brazilian was redeployed where he would make an impact throughout including a huge 15-foot jump shot from the right side of the floor as the shot clock expired. He would later say that he feels as if he’s from Cleveland given how much the fans within this town appreciate his endless supply of effort.

The Plain Dealer’s Tom Reed used a recent illness suffered by public address announcer Olivier Sedra as a referendum on the top-down nature of this team. Byron Scott’s post-game comments rang as if being spoken by a drill sergeant, stating that no one in the NBA is going to feel sorry for a franchise decimated by injury.

“You can respond one of two ways,” coach Scott said. “You can feel sorry for yourself and say one of our best players is out and go in the tank or you can respond like we did.”

If the league  had not been made aware, the hard work, grit and determination — all handed down by the team’s second-year head coach — are combining to put on one heck of a show. They may not get the fanfare and national recognition of the team that came out on the losing end of Wednesday night’s ledger, but they’re undoubtedly playing like the city in which they live.

 (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

  • Harv 21

    The strip was huge but I thought the key was Boobie’s overall 4th quarter defense. In one crucial Clipper possession in the last two minutes he stopped Paul’s penetration, forced him to back out and re-set at the circle with the shot clock dwindling. Paul then passed off to someone else for a long missed jumper.

    And who else was not surprised Mo would miss wide open shots at crunch time in a game he cared about. Such a deal we got.

    And every time I say something negative about Sessions he does this. No idea how he can vacillate from game to game between Good Sess and Bad Sess. He’s not really a young player anymore.

  • swig

    I missed the beginning of this game, but from other Clippers game’s I’ve caught I find Del Negro very painful.  It seems like every time they show him in the huddle coming out of a TV break he’s drawing big loopy circles on his white board saying “You know why they’re beating us Hustle*, they are out hustling us.  What are we going to do? we’re going to come out and hustle, let’s go.”  I find him almost demotivating.

    *replace hustle with rebounding, boxing out, etc.  It’s always the same

  • Anonymous

    Great win you gotta give the Cavaliers credit no doubt.  Sessions is Jekyl and Hyde and so are my thoughts about trading him.  That being said I hope he puts up numbers if Irving is out awhile because it should only increase his trade value.  Looks like NY found a PG in Lin, for now, but the Lakers still desperetly need one.  Heck who knows maybe Jamison could even interest some teams.  He’s putting up solid numbers and would be a nice veteran addition being in the last year of his contract.  Fingers crossed.

  • baclap

    Varejao took a beating last night, but continued to give his usual A+ effort. He defended Griffin perfectly in the post late, but Griffin got a BS call. After that Griffin went into cheap shot mode. I love it when other players get frustrated by Varejao’s effort. We have to keep this guy. He should retire in a Cavs uniform.

  • Julie

    I was at the game and when I saw that Ramon Sessions was starting, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach, ’cause I knew it meant Kyrie must be out.  A few minutes later, it flashed up on the screen that Kyrie had a concussion and everyone in the stands was grumbling.  Little did we know, it was a great game anyway!  Great atmosphere.

  • TSM

    Is it just me or does Boobie seem to have greatly improved his defense?   He may actually have a fuuture here when you take into account his 3 point shooting.  Is Byron or Boobie to be credited with this improvement?
    My hope is that a contendeer has an injury at Antawn’s spot and we can move him for a first rounder.    We still need another player of Kyrie’s ability and someone a notch below.

  • Anonymous

    If he has a future it’s only because the Cavaliers still don’t have a legitimate SG or backup.  That being said I’d, can’t believe I’m going to type this, I’d take Gibson over Parker.  It’s a shame it took Gibson this long to figure out how to contribute other then by standing at the three point line waiting for a pass.  I haven’t forgotten.  He’ll never win me over unlike Varejao.

  • Harv 21

    Swig, the Joanie Loves Chachi haircut makes it difficult for anyone not to assume he’s spouting teenage TV nonsense.

  • Chucky Brown

    its been attributed to boobies off season boxing training