I don’t get to see the Wizards too often in person, but last night I drove up to L.A. to see them take on the Clippers. The last time I did this it was two years ago in the midst of the Blake Griffin sweepstakes - and the teams were a combined 33-104. It turned out to be some of the worst basketball I’ve ever seen. So I didn’t have much hope for this 44-96 combo. But man, was I wrong. Here are some observations from watching the crazy double OT game:
Yes, Blake Griffin is that impressive. He got his first career triple-double and laid down some tremendous dunks. It’s hard to properly describe how big a deal Griffin is at Clippers games - he’s like the Beatles to these fans. He briefly walked around the back of the basket and around some of the seats, and the fans that he was near just started spontaneously cheering. Ninety-five percent of the jerseys were Griffin jerseys - and he’s a rookie. The guy makes a little hop and his head is at the rim. Just amazing to watch.
John Wall isn’t quite at the Blake Griffin level, but he’s getting there. He scored a career-high, and seemed to be able to get to the basket whenever he wanted. Too bad he couldn’t hit one more free throw...
Blake Griffin whines about fouls about as much as you’ll ever see. I’m pretty sure he thinks he’s never committed a foul. Dude, you’re great. You don’t need to work the refs.
Going to a Clippers game is weird because you’re constantly reminded that they’re not the real L.A. team. The Lakers have championship banners in the rafters, the seats are purple, there are no celebrities. Imagine if the Wizards had to share the Verizon Center with a more popular and successful team (hmm... ok, besides the Caps).
JaVale McGee is a freak of nature. His arms are so long, his hands practically touch his knees. It seems impossible that he doesn’t get every rebound. He’s still raw, and managed to block Blake Griffin and get dunked on by Griffin.
I don’t know what to make of Yi Jianlian. Maybe he needs to never ever take 20-foot jumpers. Or maybe he needs to take a lot more of them. He ended up with a solid game, so much so that we were yelling “Hear Yi, Hear Yi!” and “Ask and Yi shall receive!” I am not proud of this.
I bet if you tell people you’re a Clippers cheerleader, people say, “Oh - well, you can try out for the Lakers again next year.”
Watching the trio of Wall, McGee and Crawford play well out there really gives you hope. Crawford took over the game for a portion of the fourth quarter to get the Wizards the lead, and Wall and McGee can take your breath away. McGee could turn out to be a head case, but these guys are fun to watch when they’re clicking. I hope that the next time I watch these two teams, they’ll be fighting for playoff seeding.