Monthly Archives: December 2012

Down by 19 the Clippers come back to win their 16th game in a row

Los Angeles Clippers

The hottest team in the NBA this season, the Los Angeles Clippers, almost had their 15-game winning streak broken by the Utah Jazz, but Chris Paul made sure that would not happen. He scored the last 7 points for his team, including some clutch free throws. In addition, the great defense from Matt Barnes down to the final seconds forced a tough shot from Randy Foye that could have won the game for the Jazz, but didn’t connect thus giving the Clips the win over the Jazz by two points, 116-114.

Foye, with 28 points on 5/9 shooting from 3-point range, was determined to break the streak of his former team. He led his team in scoring and had a great shooting game, going 8-13 from the field. Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward also had a good performance 22 and 17 points respectively for the Jazz. Despite scoring 114 points in the game and shooting a tremendous 60% from beyond the arc, the Jazz couldn’t capitalize in the end. The lead for the most part of the game and in fact had a burst 2nd quarter scoring 36 points and in the meantime holding their opponents to 19.

The Clippers were up by just 1 with 23” to go in the game and that was when Chris Paul took over. He scored a free-throw line jumper after a signature crossover dribble to allowed him to get open. At the next possession he got fouled and made 1 of two from the charity stripe to put his team up by two, 114-112. However, Blake Griffin fouled Al Jefferson while trying to rebound the ball and Big Al made both free throws that tied the game. Paul then got fouled and this time he didn’t miss from the free throw line, putting his team up by two, 116-114. That ended to be the final score of the game, after Foye’s desperate three pointer that didn’t go. He was defended with mastery by Matt Barnes, who continues to deliver great performances for his team. This time he stayed low on scoring, just 6 points, but his great defense on the last possession was the determining factor for the outcome of the game.

Paul led all scorers with 29 points to go along with 6 assists. Griffin finished with 22 and grabbed 13 rebounds. All starters for the Clippers finished in double figures. “We just got stops, defensively. They were hitting shots, we got stops and then we started hitting shots. Everything is going to balance out. Some nights you are not going to have it all four quarters. You might have it one or two and you have to make the most out of it and that is what we did.” ,said star forward Blake Griffin.
The Jazz and the Clippers face each other again on Sunday night, at their last game for the year at the Staples Center.

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The record-breaking winning run continues for the LA Clippers as they defeat the Phoenix Suns 103-77

Once again the Clips showed their teeth and won easily on the road by double digits to record their 13th straight win and the six consecutive on the road. They have already broken their all-time winning record with their last win against the Sacramento Kings. “We hear it all but we’re about just getting these wins and if they come within a streak or when we haven’t won somewhere, that’s fine.” said star forward Blake Griffin after the game. He led all scorers with 23 and some monster dunks during the game. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and made once again clear that he is capable to retain his all-star level gameplay and help his team reach its goals this season. He was successful on 7 of his 11 attempts from the field and also hit a 3-pointer in his 32-minute performance. For yet another time, Clippers Head coach did a great job distributing minutes effectively between the starters and the bench. “I thought our starters did a good job in the first quarter and then our second quarter, we jumped on them” , commented Clippers Coach Vinnie Del Negro.

Chris Paul also had a great game with 17 points and 13 assists. The usual suspects off the bench, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes contributed as well as they normally do combining for 37 points. The team shot an overall 55.2% from three point range, 11-21 and also made 38 shots from the field in 71 attempts, 53.5%, while holding their opponents to just 36.3% and a disappointing 3-17 from beyond the arc. Although the Suns had a good start and were up 14-12, two made shots from downtown from Caron Butler boosted the score to 50-69 for the Clips but they didn’t stop there and continued to make it a 31 point game, 60-91 in the end of the third period.

It was a rather non-flattering performance for the Suns, who were left wide open on defense in many times and turned the ball over allowing their opponents to score easy baskets. Jared Dudley had a team-high 19 points and Luis Scola finished with 11, while the rest of the team ended up in single digits. The Suns tied their season low in points scored. Head Coach Alvin Gentry was ejected with 2:33 left in the first half, after receiving two consecutive technical fouls. Six technical fouls were issued to both teams during the first three quarters.

Phoenix played without their star forward Michael Beasly and knew even before the game that this one would be tough for them. The Clippers are still playing without Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill, who both are sidelined with injuries. During their winning streak, they have won by an average of 13 points, four of them are with a 20+ points difference.
The Clippers play in front of their home crowd at Christmas against the Nuggets and then face the Boston Celtics at the Staples Center on Thursday. Last two games of the year are against the Utah Jazz, first one away and the last one, Sunday December 30th at Staples Center. Phoenix plays home on Wednesday night against the Knicks.

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Nash is back are the Lakers back on track?

Steve Nash back in action for the Lakers

After a long period of difficulties the Lakers got back in the victories this last week. Finally resurrection time may have come for LA, who last Thursday was at a tough position with a 9-14 record. 10 days and four wins after, the team has finally broken out of the slump and is happy to welcome Steve Nash back.

Nash, who missed 24 games with a broken leg returned in the starting lineup at Saturday’s match against the surprising Warriors. It has been a really long wait for the two-time MPV but his impact on the team’s playing style was obvious right from the start. He finished with 12 points to go along with many assists. But the truth is that the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The whole style changes on offense with Nash on the floor who does what he knows best, creating plays for his teammates and the Lakers in fact do have some of the greatest finishers in the league in Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

The victories started even before Nash’s return. The Lakers survived in late game situations in most of their last wins. First one against the Wizards last Friday when they won 102-96 holding off a 27 point fourth quarter from their opponents. Lakers scored only 19 during the last 12 minutes. Next stop was Philadelphia against the Sixers, when LA broke out and won easily 111-98. Bryant finished had another high scoring game with 34 and Metta World Piece had a career high 16 rebounds to go along with 19 points, quite a performance for him. Then it was a comeback in the last quarter that saved the day for the Lakers, who took 101-100 the Bobcats at a game with a dramatic finale. The Bobcats had the chance to win the game but missed on 3 consecutive tries in the last 10 seconds thus throwing the victory to their opponents. Last game of the week came on Saturday night for the Lakers. It came down to the overtime but the Lakers escaped with a 118-115 win against the Warriors. It was another good game from Kobe Bryant who led all scorers with 34 points and of course noticeable for the night, Steve Nash’s return to the team.

The encouraging fact for Lakers fans is that things may actually get better for the team. Now, with Nash and also Gasol back from injuries, the team may show its real capabilities. Now it’s time for them to prove that the expectations during the off-season, when all the stars met in LA, were not too high. They are just one win behind the psychological border of 0.500 that could trigger a burst of momentum for the Lakers. They will surely need that going in 2013 and as playoff time is approaching. Of course there is a lot of work ahead and the road will not be easy for them.

Next up for the Lakers they play on Christmas day against the New York Knicks at home and then travel to Denver to face the Nuggets. Last game of the year is Friday night in front of the Staples Center crowd against the Portland Trailblazers.

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Great Week for the Los Angeles Clippers

Things keep going better and better each week for the Los Angeles Clippers. After breaking the all time franchise winning streak record with their 12th coming on Friday against the Sacramento Kings, the Clippers are ready to move even further. The team plays in an enjoyable but also effective way and keeps fans wanting more. With 3 wins this past week, one on the road at Detroit against the Pistons and two at the Staples Center facing the Hornets and the Kings, the Clippers now lie on the second seed in the conference with a 20-6 record. They are just one game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lead the entire NBA record wise. The time that the franchise will rejoice watching its team constantly winning games has eventually arrived. It’s been a long wait for the fans and the team’s staff but the satisfaction maybe double, because not only the team is doing well but also the city rivals, Lakers, are in one of their toughest seasons of the last years.

“Most of those guys have been here through tougher times,” said Chris Paul and added ” So it’s been exciting for me in the short amount of time I’ve been here, especially knowing some of the people who have been with the team for 25 or 30 years and the season-ticket holders. But we can’t be satisfied. We’ve got to keep it going.” The previous record was held back during the 1974-75 when current Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro was 8 years old.

Blake Griffin is improving his numbers game by game, averaging a something more than 28 PPG and almost 9 Rebounds. The fellow star, Chris Paul is also providing a huge help distributing more than 9 assists per game while scoring 16 PPG. Matt Barnes proved to be a pleasant surprise for the Clippers and has given his teams really valuable minutes off the bench especially the past week.

The fact is that the schedule included several games against weak opponents the past two weeks, but that doesn’t deduct any of value from the team’s success. The goal for the Clips now is set high and they may actually find themselves fighting to clinch the first seed before the New Year comes. Head Coach Vinny Del Negro stated after the last game

“I think the guys are learning and understanding what it takes to play at a high level consistently. It’s a good thing to have a target on your back, but that also brings a responsibility to play at a high level as often as possible.”

The Clippers will finish the year with 2 games on the road and 3 at home. On Sunday night they play at Phoenix and then play two in a row at the Staples Center against the Denver Nuggets the Celtics respectively. The last two games are against the Utah Jazz, first one on Friday on the road and the on Sunday 30th at home.

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The Los Angeles Lakers escape with a 101-100 win over the Bobcats

In a game that came down to the last second, the Lakers proved to be lucky and managed to survive and take the victory by one point. This was the third win in a row for LA and that tied their longest streak of the season, while for the Bobcats it was the 12th straight loss. No matter the opponent though, it was really important for the Lakers to return to wins and hope to gain momentum for the next games.

As usual, Kobe did his thing, scored 30 points on 11-24 shooting, including a couple of acrobatic plus-one layups in traffic. It was the seventh straight with 30 or more for him. . “We’re just moving the ball. I’m being aggressive and looking for opportunities to get a few guys involved.” ,Kobe commented. He lifted his team, which was down by 9 on the break and led it straight to the victory. In fact it was a 28-4 run by them that erased the 18 point deficit of the third quarter. But the Bobcats didn’t surrender and in fact tied the game at 97 with 2:17 left in the game. However, Kobe wouldn’t let this thing go out of his control. He answered with two back to back clutch shots. The former Laker Ramon Sessions completed a three point play in an effort to keep his team in the game but the Bobcats missed on 3 consecutive shots in the last 10”, including a desperation three from Gerald Henderson in the last second that could win the Bobcats the game.
Pau Gasol returned to the lineup after missing eight games finishing with 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Coach Mike D’Antoni only used three of his reserves. Two of them, Metta World Piece who didn’t start this one and Joddie Meeks finished the game with 17 points. Dwight Howard added a smooth double double with 16 points and 18 rebounds and that pretty much was enough for the Lakers to get away with a win. “I’m trying to figure out what’s the best way to play the team. We will keep looking at film, keep revisiting. We have a couple practices and we’ll keep looking at different combinations.” ,said Coach Mike D’Antoni after the game.

For Charlotte, they got a great game out of Kemba Walker who scored 28 and dished 6 assists and also Ramon Sessions had 20 off the bench. The Lakers hit 21 free throws in 27 attempts, many of them in the third quarter and that got them back in the game.

The Lakers take three days off before playing against the Golden State Warriors at the Oracle Arena and that finishes their games for this week. A tough game against the NBA record leaders New York Knicks follows, Tuesday night. The Charlotte Bobcats will travel to Phoenix to play against the Suns on Wednesday.

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Breaking down the Clippers recent 10-game winning streak

The Los Angeles Clippers have been hot like fire the last couple of weeks. They are in a 10-game winning streak, the longest for the team since the franchise move to LA and need one more game to tie the 11 wins in a row that the team achieved back in 1974 as the Buffalo Braves. The truth is that it should be no surprise that the team plays in such a good rhythm and wins games. After all the beginning of the season was spectacular for them going 8-2. But what has really changed this season and the team seems to play with such confidence and energy, comparing to last season and the years before?

Well, the team is surely more bonded this year and many of the players have individually improved greatly since then. Both offensively and on defense, every player that’s one the floor is putting up his best performance. We’ve seen an amazing season up to now from Matt Barnes. He’s most probably undervalued due to the lack of big numbers in the stats board. However, his great hustle and the energy he brings to the floor make him a valuable piece off the bench for the Clippers. He has proven to be another positive surprise for Vinnie Del Negro up to this point of the season. Eric Bledsoe has also picked up his game since last season. In fact he continues his great playoff appearances from last year, cutting down turnovers and having a great impact on scoring. Maybe the biggest surprise is DeAndre Jordan who has become a top defensive player and also contributes on offense with some terrific post moves we’ve seen. The future for the 24-year old center is subjected to be bright for him if he stays healthy and having in mind the lack of true centers in the league. His fit alongside Blake Griffin seems to work perfectly for the Clippers up to now and in fact each one almost completes the others game. Griffin has finally found his beastly-self playing like a true superstar and not as another underrated highflyer, as many opponent fans noticed during the losses of the team. Of course Chris Paul’s contribution is another great factor for the Clippers’ winning run. With 16 PPG, 9.3 assists and 2.3 steals he seems rather comfortable with his game, ready to hit the clutch shot and lead his team on the top of the western conference.

There also seems to be another great factor that helps LA win games. That is the contribution of the bench. It may sound a matter of minor importance but in fact it is the bench that locked many of the wins for the team and not only that. It’s vital for Vinnie Del Negro and every coach to know that he can trust his role players every time he has to rest the starters. In fact the Clippers’ bench is surely over delivering. Two of the top 5 scorers of the team are reserves and in fact Jamaal Crawford is second with 16.5 PPG.

Generally, this great winning streak the Clippers are in, is the combination of terrific individual efforts and improvements from most of the players of the roster and the simple yet effective tactics that Coach Vinnie Del Negro has put up. He just gives the freedom to his point guards to serve dishes and easy baskets to their teammates and create open looks for themselves, too. It has worked pretty well for the Clippers team up to now. Let’s see if they can continue to put the numbers they are doing right now and get on winning more games.

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Wisconsin Will Have New Coach For Rose Bowl

With former Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bret Bielema leaving to take the open job at Arkansas, the Badgers will have a new coach guiding them to Pasadena for the 2013 Rose Bowl on January 1st. Surprisingly, Wisconsin team captains approached a man who has already won three Rose Bowls: Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez.

Alvarez retired from coaching in 2005 after winning Rose Bowls in 1994, 1999, and 2000. He won 118 games in 16 years, in the process becoming Wisconsin’s all-time winningest coach. As the Badgers’ head man, Alvarez won numerous coaching awards including AFCA Coach of the Year and Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year in 1993 after leading Wisconsin to a 10-1-1 record, a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl victory. He was also named the Big Ten Coach of the Year that season and won it again in 1998.

The Pennsylvania native played football for Bob Devaney at Nebraska from 1966 to 1968 and then began his coaching career as an assistant at Lincoln Northeast HS in Nebraska. After serving on Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame staff, Alvarez got the head coaching job in Madison inheriting one of the Big Ten’s most dismal programs. After consecutive 5-6 seasons, Alvarez led the Badgers to that Big Ten title in ‘93 and proceeded to guide Wisconsin to six seasons of at least nine wins. In his 16 years in Madison, Alvarez took the Badgers to 11 bowls games, going 8-3.

Alvarez stepped down in 2005 but remained an integral part of the program meaning there will be little distraction for the rest of the staff and the players. He will likely allow the staff to operate “business as usual” and offer input, make game-day decisions, and handle the press. There should be little problem since Bielema was on Alvarez’s staff and hand-picked as his successor.

Bielema’s teams were much like Alvarez’s – tough, stingy defenses and big, huge offensive lines that opened holes for 10 straight years of 1,000-yard rushers. Expect the same with Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball, who established the NCAA record for career touchdowns with 82 behind another massive Wisconsin offensive line. Alvarez has told his players that he would be honored to coach them, but he has also told them that he will not screw around. Alvarez has made it clear to the Badgers that he is in it to win it. With three Rose Bowl wins under his belt, don’t be surprised if Alvarez adds a fourth this year.

Preview of Stanford Vs Wisconsin 2013 Rose Bowl

The Granddaddy of them all features a somewhat surprising Pac-12 champion, the Stanford Cardinals, against a definite surprise in Big Ten champ, Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers, by virtue of both Ohio State’s and Penn State’s bowl bans, represented the Leaders Division in the conference title game where they subsequently handed 12th-ranked Nebraska a 70-31 pounding.

After losing superstar QB Andrew Luck, OG David DeCastro, and TE Coby Fleener to the NFL, Stanford was supposed to be rebuilding while grooming a new QB. After a respectable 6-2 start under Josh Nunes, freshman Kevin Hogan stepped in against Colorado and the Cardinal have not lost since. Coach David Shaw’s squad took care of the UCLA Bruins in the Pac-12 championship game, 27-24. The game was a rematch of the regular season finale in which Stanford had a much easier time with the resurgent Bruins, beating them 35-17.

Besides Hogan, who has thrown for 973 yards and nine touchdowns, the Cardinal look to senior RB Stepfan Taylor who leads Stanford’s powerful running game with 1,442 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Tight end Zach Ertz, who caught the winning TD pass in the upset win over Oregon, leads the passing game with 66 catches for 837 yards and six scores.

What really drives Stanford, though, is defense. The Cardinal defense yields just 88 yards rushing per game and is 21st in the nation in total defense. Defensive coordinator Derek Mason’s front seven is as talented as any in the country with LB Chase Thomas leading the charge. It’s an old-school smash-mouth type defense that features several blitz and pressure packages and is as good as any in the defense-dominant SEC.

Wisconsin returns to the Rose Bowl for the third consecutive year seeking its first win. The Badgers lost to TCU, 21-19, in the 2011 game and 45-38 to Oregon this past January. Head coach Bret Bielema had to replace QB Russell Wilson to begin the season and the task was much harder than expected. Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien looked to continue the transfer-wagon but was replaced by Joel Stave after lackluster performances led to losses to Oregon State (10-7) and Nebraska (30-27). After an injury to Stave, journeyman Curt Phillips has taken over and led the Badgers to their second consecutive league title.

Stave had been efficient throwing for 1104 yards and Phillips, who was 6-for-8 in the championship game, isn’t asked to do much, but the offense revolves around RB Montee Ball, the NCAA career leader in touchdowns (82). Ball rushed for 202 yards on 21 carries and three touchdowns to lead the Badgers to the Big Ten championship win over Nebraska. Wisconsin shredded the Huskers’ defense for 640 yards, 539 of them on the ground. Both Ball and RB Melvin Gordon went over 200 yards against Nebraska. Gordon led Wisconsin with 216 yards on just nine carries.

This year’s Rose Bowl should be a march down memory lane as two run-oriented offenses square off against two old-school defenses. The Badgers’ five losses were each by three points, including three of those defeats occurring in overtime. The Cardinal have also played there share of close games losing to top-ranked Notre Dame 20-13 in overtime and dropping a 17-13 defeat to Washington earlier in the season. Remember it was Stanford who held the fast-paced Oregon Ducks to just 14 points and then beat them in overtime 17-14. No question, this year’s Rose Bowl will be a hard-fought, defensive struggle with the team most successful running the football earning the win.

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