Rookie Blake Griffin was elected to the Western Conference All-Star team Thursday for his outstanding effort at both ends of the floor. However, he seems to be the only Clipper rookie who is making a consistently positive impact, as fellow newcomers Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe are finding the rigors of an NBA season a little harder to adapt to as the Clippers continued their road trip at Orlando on Tuesday.
Both Aminu and Bledsoe had little trouble getting onto the court when the 2010-11 season began. This was due in part to the injury woes of current starting point guard Baron Davis, and the inconsistency of small forward Ryan Gomes, but both youngsters showed head coach Vinny Del Negro early that they deserved minutes, thanks in part to Aminu's solid shooting and Bledsoe's scintillating speed.
But as this season has progressed, Aminu, in particular, has struggled to recapture the rapture at either end of the court. Aminu's shot has frequently found the back of the rim as his overall shooting percentage from the field has dipped to 40.1 percent, and even when he's been able to make the right pass or maintain his dribble, his struggles defensively have caught up to him. In Tuesday's loss to Orlando, a bewildered look was plastered on his face as he was whistled for five fouls in 22 minutes.
Bledsoe, meanwhile, has repeatedly appeared confused when it comes to where he should be directing his passes, in addition to when he should either blow by defenders or set up the offense. This has resulted in too many mistakes and chastising from Del Negro, as Davis has been summoned too soon from the bench to re-invigorate the offense, as happened Tuesday when Bledsoe has four turnovers in 24 minutes.
Aminu and Bledsoe are clearly talented guys who can light up a scoreboard and torch slower guards. What should make the difference from here on out is how often those gifts surface while getting the Clippers past the stronger teams in the NBA. The Clippers head to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to take on the New York Knicks in the fourth of their 11-game road swing.
MAGIC 101, CLIPPERS 85: The Clippers were lambasted in the fourth period, getting outscored 35-20, as the starters hit the showers early and the team fell to 19-32 overall and 3-18 on the road. The Magic starting frontcourt enjoyed a huge advantage on the glass all night, with the trio of Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson outrebounding their Clipper counterparts in Ryan Gomes, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan by a 33-15 margin while fueling the Orlando fast break.
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