PLAYA VISTA >> The Clippers mastered the style well enough to become known as “Lob City” seemingly only a few moments once they formed their Big Three more than five years ago.
Even in a crowded local sports market in which the Lakers and Dodgers dominate the landscape, the Clippers still ended up on highlight shows with countless dunks. Chris Paul threw the passes and either Blake Griffin or the DeAndre Jordan threw down the lobs.
In their first-round series against Utah, the Clippers did not fully employ that tactic until their Game 2 win over the Jazz. The Clippers scored 60 points in the paint. Griffin and Jordan combined for 42 points. The Jazz could do nothing to stop it with starting center Rudy Gobert out of the lineup with a left knee injury.
What will it take for the Clippers to complete another paint job for Game 3 against Utah on Friday in Salt Lake City? Clippers coach Doc Rivers mused, “I hope it’s not losing another game.
“Our talent is our power, our speed and our length. If we don’t use it, then shame on us.”
The Clippers did not fully use those skills in their Game 1 loss to the Jazz despite Gobert playing only 11 seconds before injuring his knee. Though Griffin had 26 points, he had only six in the second half. Though Jordan had 10 points, he also picked up a costly technical foul late in the fourth quarter.
“When we’re playing offensively with the right pace, that aggressiveness just kind of comes with the flow of the offense,” Griffin said. “The ball is just moving around a lot and we have the ability to attack. I think it’s just our offensive mindset.”
The Clippers, however, noted the process in figuring out how to use that mindset correctly.
“it is important for myself to kind of pick spots and make sure I’m spacing the floor properly,” Griffin said.
Griffin has navigated between balancing those two facets.
“There are times he sides on the unselfish a little bit more,” Rivers said. “He’s such a conscious player and passer that it’s tough. You like that, too. It’s a coach’s dilemma. How do you tell an unselfish guy to be selfish more? It’s a really hard one. But overall, I think he has a pretty good feel.”
The Clippers also believe they have a good feel on the shooting struggles of starting shooting guard J.J. Redick (5 of 13) and reserve forward Jamal Crawford (7 of 24) in Games 1 and 2 They downplayed those numbers, contending that their floor spacing along enabled the Clippers to attack well against the Jazz in Game 2. They also argued their focus on the paint will yield open shots both players will eventually make.
“Just play and take what’s there,” Clippers guard Chris Paul said. “We always say in and out, but if you get into the paint and they’re there and guys are open for shots, you got to play the game.”
Rivers said the higher altitude in Salt Lake City might prompt him either to make quick substitutions or call an early timeout.