Clippers lose to the Chicago Bulls before hitting the road

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Photo above: Blake Griffin of the L.A. Clippers fouls Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls.

Clippers-3In the first half it looked like this would be the end of Chicago’s winning streak on the road. Before Monday’s game the Bulls had won six on the road. But then in the second quarter, being down 12 points, Chicago began its comeback and the half ended with the Clippers ahead by two.

The Bulls really came to life when the second half started, especially Mike Dunleavy and Nikola Mirotic. Both forwards scored way above their season averages, Dunleavy scoring 19, with 12 of those points from 3-pointers. Mirotic scored from the paint and even had a 3-pointer. He finished the night with 12 points. With Pau Gasol sitting at the end of the bench in street clothes, with Derrick Rose, Mirotic stepped up to fill Gasol’s role.

Clippers-1The big story for the Clippers; they didn’t get many offensive rebounds and in the second half their defense was not there. J.J. Reddick couldn’t get on track and Blake Griffin was held scoreless from the end of the first quarter to the end of the third when he sunk a free throw. That was another issue for the Clippers: they didn’t get to the stripe very often and when they did the missed many of those free throws.

The Bulls played sharp defense, and the Clippers did not. The Bulls could score in the paint, the Clippers rarely got close to the basket.

Jamal Crawford carried the Clippers scoring, with 24 points. DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, and Blake Griffin finished with 19, an amazing feat considering he didn’t score for almost 24 minutes.

Clippers-2Chris Paul had 12 and J.J. Reddick only scored five points.

This should have been a win for the Clippers; the Bulls didn’t have Derrick Rose or Pau Gasol, two of the best players in the league, on the court. The Clippers were a playoff team last season, making it into the second round, but Monday night they didn’t look like that same team.

After the game several Clippers players, and head coach Doc Rivers, all made comments about their record at the start of last season and how they are in the same position this year (their current record is 5-4). But if there’s no improvement over last year, can they expect to do any better when the playoffs arrive? That’s the question they need to answer between now and next May.

Joakim Noah
Joakim Noah

Give it to the Bulls though; this was the start of their road trip that will take them to Sacramento, Portland, Utah, Denver, Boston and Brooklyn. To start the trip with such a convincing win over a talented team like the Clippers was a big deal. Even without Gasol and Rose the Bulls were the far better, far tougher team than the Clippers, as coach Doc Rivers admitted after the game.

After the game Bulls center Joakim Noah said, “We were down two, we just felt like that just gave us confidence to stay into the game. I think our mentality was good from the start. We knew we were going to keep fighting, regardless of the outcome of the game. That’s what we told the guys: stay in and stay focused; don’t get frustrated and it was just a great win for us tonight.”

The final score was 105-89 for the Bulls.

The Clippers go on the road against Orlando, Miami and then the 10-1 Memphis Grizzlies. Obviously the Clippers will have to play much better to beat those teams.

All photos by Claudia Gestro