LOS ANGELES – Rarely do the numbers tell the whole story of any game, but in the 76ers 123-78 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center, the numbers were simply the whole story. Here’s a little breakdown:
73: That’s how many shots the Sixers missed.
27: That’s how many they made, for a shooting percentage of the same number.
56: That was the biggest lead by the Clippers, obtained midway through the third quarter when a Jamal Crawford jump shot made it 89-33.
39: That was the margin at halftime (69-30). It set a Clippers franchise record for a lead at the half.
28: That’s how many points the Clippers scored in the first half of the first quarter. At that pace they would have finished with 224 points. And by that time they had already built a 28-5 lead.
46: That’s how many points the Sixers allowed in the first quarter, the most of any this season.
20: That’s how many rebounds DeAndre Jordan snared, in only 29 minutes and 33 seconds of play.
14: That’s how many field goals the Sixers starters combined for.
57: That’s how many field goal attempts by the Sixers starters.
24.6: That’s the shooting percentage of the Sixers starters.
45: That margin of victory was a Clippers franchise record.
Get the picture? Well, if you think you do, it was even worse.
Chris Paul returned for the Clippers for the first time since separating his shoulder on January 3 and promptly led his team to a 13-0 start. Hard to imagine it could get worse for the Sixers but it certainly continued to.
“The stage that you’re looking at and the players that are on that stage and you see athletes and men and tenacity with the Clippers that you respect,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “That’s a defensive-oriented, athletic type of team that we ran into a buzz saw and we got jumped early and we did not respond and it’s a lesson that a young team is going to have to navigate through because that is a physical, athletic team and we really did not respond to the start of that game well.”
As statements would go, that would win a gold medal for an understated one. As early as the second quarter the Clippers seemed to be providing more of a fight as to who would get open shots for them than the Sixers. After each miss by the Sixers, the Clippers ran out with three or four people, each wanting to add a play to the highlight tape.
The only blemish of the night was a scary first quarter collision between Tony Wroten (21 points) and Blake Griffin. Wroten was falling to the floor when he hit Griffin’s planted leg. Griffin’s ankle appeared to bend awkwardly and he limped to the locker room. The injury was called a shin contusion and the high-flying forward was shortly back, throwing down monstrous dunks at an alarming pace.
Griffin led the Clippers (36-18) with 26 points – to go along with 11 rebounds and six assists – while Jamal Crawford collected 21 points. Darren Collison had 12 off the bench and Jordan and Ryan Hollins each chipped in 10. Paul finished with seven points, eight assists and four steals in his return.
The goal for Brown, with his team thoroughly beaten by halftime, was to get something – anything – out of this game. He insisted they did, but that was pretty tough to comprehend.
“We wanted to compete at a level where we could win a quarter,” he said. “We lost that third quarter by 10 and we tried to repeat it in the fourth period and you try to just shrink the goals and try to make them realistic generally based around guarding. We navigate through it. It’s not an easy thing to go through for anybody. Everybody’s got pride and you want to represent your team and coach your team well. You don’t feel good sitting on the sidelines as that is unfolding, but it did and we’ll move on.”
They’ll move on a little quicker than they would probably like as they face the high-scoring Golden State Warriors tonight. Not exactly a great concoction to face following what is sure to be a butt-kicking hangover.
“They started out with a 13-0 situation and when they started hitting those threes we were trying to protect the paint,” said Evan Turner, who finished with seven points on 1-for-8 shooting. “Obviously they got it going early and they didn’t stop. Sometimes our reads weren’t the best. We tried to protect the paint and they made us pay for it. They couldn’t miss and we couldn’t make anything. They played great.
“That was an ass whooping. It was just crazy. I think the most important thing is just keeping your head up. We had a few positives but at the same time they just played great basketball.”
The positive, if you are feeling generous, could be Wroten’s performance. The only real one was when the final horn sounded and the massacre mercifully came to an end.