I'm going to try and give some early impressions of tonight's game from the boxscores and online sources. A huge disclaimer is that I didn't see or listen to the game which means that grains of salt are warranted. I hate it when people try to make points from just stats. But there are some discernable trends to be pointed out and this will do while we're waiting for eyewitness reports or tomorrow's write-ups in the paper.
First of all...WE WON! WHOOO! I know it's pre-season but it still feels nice.
Second of all...111 POINTS! WHOOO! I know it's pre-season but it still feels nice.
Now that those are out of the way, on to the Boxscore.
The thing that stuck out to me early was that three of our major guys--Jack, Aldridge, and Frye--got to the free throw line a bunch. This is very good. We talk about the need for increased scoring and the running game. That's fine, but if this isn't the #1 unwritten rule of the league it's no lower than #3: the easiest way to increase your scoring is to shoot more foul shots. We also shot 88.5% from the charity stripe which is fantastic. If we can become one of the best foul shooting teams in the league that will go a long way towards some extra wins.
As a few people pointed out in the Gameday comments our turnover number was fantastic. We could make half again that many turnovers and still be OK. Now granted the defense from a banged-up, pre-season Clippers team was probably not indicative of anything we're going to face in the regular season, but balance that with the fact that we made many more substitutions and played many more players than we would in a regular game. There didn't seem to be a lot of chaos out there. Go practice time!
We got 14 rebounds from our small forward position, which is going to be crucial in this Oden-less year. By comparison we only got 9 combined from our power forwards. Everybody out there contributed on the boards though (to the extent we did rebound...more on that later). We've got to have that. In fact securing the rebound will probably be more important to the overall success of our season than running with the ball afterwards.
29 assists? Phenomenal. Sergio 7, Taurean 5, Blake 5, Jack 4. You know Roy is going to get them too. There will be plenty of nights when those assists morph into turnovers against strong defenses, but honestly there is not a selfish bone to be found in this team's body. In fact they may be too unselfish. But that is fantastic to see. Quality play, quality guys, good basketball win or lose.
We held the Clippers to 39% shooting, which was fantastic. However they were missing their entire starting frontcourt so it's somewhat likely that they would have shot poorly even if they had played the Blazer Dancers.
Now let's get to what everybody is going to be talking about:
Martell Webster shoots 11 of 14, 4 of 6 from deep, and scores 28 in a game high 34 minutes. The coaches left him out there and he produced. I am very, VERY interested to hear whether the team was actively running plays for him or if he just found the seams and shot confidently in the flow of the offense. If you were at the game PLEASE write in and let us know not just what he scored, but how. In any case, this has got to be considered a great start for Martell and for everyone working with him.
Lamarcus Aldridge goes 6-9 from the field and 9-9 from the foul line. 21 points on a minimum of shots. We did warn you about this guy, right?
Jones shot well from deep in his debut (4-9) and Frye hit 5-5 from the line en route to 15 points. Both are good performances. I'll want to see more rebounding from Channing though. It's hard to see all the good things in the buffet if nobody cleans the glass.
Now a couple of things that need work...
We got outrebounded 54-39. We allowed the Clippers' imposing (cough) front line 21 offensive rebounds. This will be a problem all year with Oden out but it can't be that glaring or we're in trouble.
You'd think there would be nothing to complain about with the offense but if you look at the shot chart here it tells a mixed tale. The good is that our shots were concentrated in just a few areas: top of the key, right and left wings, clusters on the right and left sidelines, free throw line. That's generally the mark of a good team. People (including me) ooh and aah over guys who can score from anywhere but generally the secret to a good NBA offense is already knowing where you're going to score from before the game even starts. A lot of halfcourt success comes from getting your scorers the ball in their most comfortable spots. It looks like we did that tonight. The bad news is if you look at those shots they are skewed heavily towards the outside. By my count at least 53 of our 86 shots were beyond free throw line distance, the majority of those within a couple feet of the three-point arc. I don't care what the scoreboard says or how well the wings shot...if that's our pattern for offense we are going to lose two out of every three games this year. The best team I saw at the mid-to-long-range jumper game in recent years was Minnesota a few years ago. They had Wally Szczerbiak, Kevin Garnett, Sam Cassell, and a bunch of smooth shooters. They were good at it. It didn't help them much. And we won't be anywhere near that consistent (or talent-packed, for that matter). Those shots also eliminate much of the free-throw line advantage bonus earlier. As the pre-season progresses I hope we see more driving and less bombing.
That's all I have for now. Good game!