LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clippers cruised to a 130-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns Saturday night in their home opener.
Let’s take a look at a few takeaways from the win.
Blake Griffin’s Leadership
With three starters from last season gone, and a total of nine new faces on the roster, forward Blake Griffin has a lot of responsibility to keep the ship afloat as the chemistry builds.
“I hope he takes every game personal, the talking leadership we don’t need, and that’s not Blake [Griffin] anyways,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s the leadership by example is what Blake is doing. He’s one of the hardest workers and one of the first guys at practice, one of the last guys to leave, he plays at a high pace, so for me that’s the type of leadership that everybody is following.”
Through two games this season, Griffin is averaging 29 points on 52.8 percent shooting, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and has a PER of 34.
“I think that we have been very solid,” Griffin said after the game. “There have been times early on that we have been bad in transition, we had missed the little man a couple times after we were bad in transition and we started to get to the little man. Everything that we messed up on we corrected, which is good. But ultimately you want to have to not correct anything at all,which is a little unrealistic but I like the way we have had each other’s backs and made adjustments in game, not just halftime in game but actual time outs and all that, so it is promising.”
Griffin needed just 27 minutes to finish with an impressively efficient 29 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field.
Defense Continues to Improve
It’s very early in the season, but the Clippers have been pretty, pretty good at forcing turnovers. Against the Suns, the Clippers finished with 12 steals, forced 20 turnovers and scored 32 points off them.
On the season, the Clippers are No. 3 in the league — behind Oklahoma City and Utah — in opponent turnovers per possession.
They were No. 21 in the league last season in that category.
“It has only been two games, but I think we put an emphasis on rebounding the basketball and limiting teams to one shot,” DeAndre Jordan said. “In order for us to get out and run and play with the pace that we want to play with, we have to be able to get stops. That is big for us. We have to be physical on both ends of the floor.”
Injuries Piling Up
In an NBA season that’s already had its fair share of injuries, the Clippers added to the suffering as Milos Teodosic left the game in the second quarter after sustaining a left-foot injury.
X-rays following the game came back as negative for any broken bones; Teodosic is expected to get an MRI Sunday to determine the severity of the injury.
After Danilo Gallinari missed a three-point attempt, Teodosic went after the ball and came crashing to the floor near the far end line. Almost instantly, he grabbed his left foot, motioning for help.
“It’s definitely a foot injury but we don’t know what it is,” Rivers said. “He’s down because he obviously came over here to play basketball, not to be injured. So let’s just hope he’s not.”
Teodosic had five points and two assists prior to the injury.
“Hopefully he will be OK and hopefully it isn’t going to be bad news,” Jordan said. “But if it is, the next guy has to be ready to step up, and that is why we are so deep. We have a lot of guys who can play. Hopefully he will be OK.”