Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: CLIPPERS KEEP ROLLINGThere's no better story in the NBA over the last two weeks than the resurgent Los Angeles Clippers, who pulled themselves together after a dreadful start to the season. Rather than treat 2011 as a walk of shame, the Clippers are cat-walking through the competition, notching their third straight victory and sixth in the last seven games by smashing the Minnesota Timberwolves, 126-111.
Every night is the Blake Griffin show, and Griffin delivered yet again (see highlights below). But Wednesday night also revealed some excellent scoring balance and all-around unselfish, excited play. The Timberwolves are simply awful on defense and the Clippers exploited those holes nicely, getting lots of easy looks by registering 26 assists on 44 field goal makes, shooting nearly 50% as a team on the night.
Eric Gordon, battling through a finger injury, put up 23 points on just 14 shots and he didn't miss from downtown. With the Clippers' recent success, are we finally turning a corner as a nation and realizing what Gordon's been doing over the last few months? This nice SB Nation analysis suggests that maybe we are.
Aside from LA's headliners, there's progress to be seen up and down the roster. If you rewound back to the early struggles and made a checklist of the improvements you would want to see, that list would look something like...
- DeAndre Jordan must play engaged, excited ball and trust his physical skills.
- Baron Davis must try. Really try.
- Eric Bledsoe needs to be an impact player in his minutes.
- Griffin must get to the free throw line all night long.
As for now, the second half of a home-and-away back-to-back greets them on Thursday night, in Portland against the Trail Blazers.
GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:
Danny Granger: 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block on 11-19 shooting in 42 minutes in an Indiana Pacers road loss to the Golden State Warriors.
DeJuan Blair: 22 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block on 11-16 shooting in 35 minutes in a San Antonio Spurs home victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Carmelo Anthony: 35 points, seven rebounds, one assist in 38 minutes in a Denver Nuggets home victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Monta Ellis: 36 points, five rebounds, six assists in 44 minutes in a Golden State Warriors home victory over the Indiana Pacers.
- Ken Berger was live on the scene at a remarkable press conference in New Jersey, where Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov pulled out of the Carmelo Anthony trade talks.
- Turns out the NBA owners and Player's Association will meet to discuss labor negotiations on All-Star weekend after all.
- New All-Star jerseys!
- DeMar DeRozan got his wish: he's in the Dunk Contest.