All The 'They Said It's' From Mavs-Clippers
There's been a seismic shift; the Los Angeles Clippers are a team to be taken seriously, and second-year rookie Blake Griffin is the reason why. In three months of regular season action, he's managed to take the Clips from They Are Who We Thought They Were to a team "on the verge.'' For the first half it looked like the Other LA Team might knock the Dallas Mavericks right out of the gym. There is a difference, however, between entertainment and contention, and in the second half the Mavericks happily demonstrated. The only reason tonight's final, 112-105, was that close was the odd garbage time bucket.
Blake Griffin, the next generational player (or Rookie of the Year)?
"In terms of a guy that's making major strides all the time, I mean he's just one of those unique guys because of his ability level and also because of his love and commitment for the game, which I see from afar and you hear about . . .He just gets better and better. He takes quantum leaps by the week." -Coach Rick Carlisle
Regarding the awful first half -- the Clippers shot 68% . . .
"I think we were a step slow to everything in the first half. We let them shoot close to 70 percent, and that's obviously not what we want." -Dirk Nowitzki
"We didn't get off to a good start, obviously -- we have to do better there . . . We weren't ready to play at the beginning, that was clear. That's just something we gotta keep addressing going forward; with practise, with film. And we gotta get better with it." -Coach Rick Carlisle
On the much better second half . . .
"In the second half, we were the more aggressive team. That's how it is in this league, usually. The team that's more aggressive gets more calls, gets the benefit of the doubt. They were the team that got the benefit of the doubt in the first half, then we turned it around in the second." -Dirk Nowitzki
"I thought we got very stagnant offensively, which affected our defense, and then it kind of had a snowball effect from there. I didn't like our defense overall." -Coach Vinny del Negro
About JJ Barea and his season-high 25 points. . .
"It felt great. We came out slow and all the bench guys were talking that we had to come out with a lot of energy tonight and change the tempo and we did that and it worked out for us." -JJ Barea
"JJ got it going. He kept us in it. It easily could have been a blowout loss for us, but he kept us in it. We could be in here sad, but for him to come out and do what he did offensively and defensively against Baron Davis was tremendous . . . You look at him, and I've got guys challenging JJ, from family friends to guys at the YMCA at the rec. They want to take his spot. But ain't nobody taking his spot. He's one of the toughest players on the team." -Jason Terry
Major props to Brendan Haywood, who spent 24 minutes spoiling Griffin's fun . . .
"He still ended with 22 and 11 so it's not like he had a bad night. I felt like I blocked a shot or two of his and contested some more. I felt I did a decent job on him." -Brendan Haywood
"Brendan had a very good feel for how to play Griffin -- the schemes we were using against him and their other bigs. He had a very big presence in the game. The stats won't tell that story." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"You know what, I was excited. I think this was one of his best games so far this year. Sometimes the stat sheet doesn't show everything that a guy is out there doing. The defense that he played against Blake, his weakside defense, his rebounding, keeping balls alive, giving us extra shots, his physical presence, it was a huge game for him tonight." -Tyson Chandler
. . . said spoilage including a Flagrant-1 . . .
"The play of the game -- you hate to say it -- but it was ‘Wood throwing down Blake Griffin and really making a statement. He missed one of those free throws and then we got a stop on the next possession." -Jason Terry
"No, that's not a flagrant foul. I feel the NBA should give my money back for that one. It was one of those plays; I just grabbed his arm. He's just so athletic and strong that he was still trying to finish the play and he ends up basically not protecting himself." -Brendan Haywood
"After that flagrant foul it started hurting. We'll see how it is tomorrow." -Blake Griffin
(Note: X-rays of Griffin's arm taken after the game showed no damage)
Educating Blake Griffin on the fine points of banging down low . . .
"On those type of plays he has to realize, 'All right, I got fouled, just throw it at the rim and come down.' Protect yourself for the next play. Every play can't be a dunk-contest dunk." -Brendan Haywood
Fourth quarter, 08:40 left, technicals on Coach Carlisle and Baron Davis. What happened?
"Well, (Davis) was posting me up, so that was making me mad every time. So, I was just trying to do my best and he got a little frustrated . . . I didn't have to go down, but when you get hit like that, you go down. It's basketball." -JJ Barea
"(Coach Carlisle) started cussing me out. I told him, ‘Go have some lunch.'" -Baron Davis
"I'm not going to talk about that. It was . . . whatever." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"I've got his back. He's all right." -Tyson Chandler
"When it comes from your head coach, that's big. You know he has your back, but that's just another example of it . . . Everybody thinks Rick is this calm-demeanor guy, no emotion. He shows tons of emotion and tonight was an example of that." -Jason Terry
About this four-game homestand . . .
"I'm happy to be at home for four games in a row. So we gotta take care of these four games and get our rhythm here, then go on the road and get some wins." -JJ Barea
"We got out of here alive, but it certainly was not an easy game and we don't expect any of these games to be easy." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"Obviously, we have ground to make up from what we lost when we had our key guys injured. And I think tonight was a good start." -Jason Terry