LOS ANGELES -- When executed properly, the lob play is one of the prettiest in basketball. For it to work, the timing, the pass and the finish all have to collide, ending with a violent flush through the rim.
When they're botched, it's not so pretty.
The Clippers did more of the latter Saturday against Utah, fighting through the botched passes and fumbled catches to beat the lowly Jazz, 98-90.
It wasn't just the lob passes that gave the Clippers problems. The Clippers had trouble completing all passes.
"We bobbled the ball. It was amazing," Doc Rivers said. "We missed so many dunks and lobs."
With not much going right, the Clippers turned to their two stars.
"We had no choice," Rivers said.
Blake Griffin, who became just the second player to score 35 points or more on consecutive nights, turned the ball over eight times. Still, his 40 points, 14-of-17 shooting from the line and 10 rebounds were more than enough to make up for the lost possessions.
Chris Paul, who took the Clippers' loss to Portland on Thursday extra personal after missing an open 17-footer at the end of regulation, sure rebounded.
Paul grabbed 10 boards to go with 21 points, nine assists and five steals.
The Clippers held Utah to 42.1 percent shooting from the field, but despite the defense, the Clippers' offense never really got on track. The team missed 11 of their 14 tries from 3-point range and scored only 17 points in the first quarter.
Still, led by Griffin and Paul, the Clippers were too talented and too effective for the rebuilding Jazz to handle with any consistency.
"It was one of those nights," Rivers said. "We made just enough plays."
No job in the NBA is a particularly easy one, but what Doc Rivers is asking Darren Collison to do right now is notably difficult.
With Jamal Crawford starting, Collison has been asked to become the second unit's primary scorer. He's also the bench's lone healthy playmaker.
"It's a thin line. You need to make everybody feel like they're involved. At the same time, coach has been telling me to attack. It's a very thin line," Collison said. "I just think you play the game and get people involved naturally. Then, you can be aggressive. It's not always going one way or the other."
Since Crawford moved into the starting lineup for Willie Green, Collison is averaging 11 points a game off the bench. Saturday against Utah, Collison scored seven points.
Collison said he didn't think Crawford's move into the starting lineup was the reason for his scoring jump. Prior to Thursday's game in Portland, Collison said he was simply feeling more comfortable.
"We can all play with Jamal. For me, it was about getting accustomed to being on a new team. For awhile, it's had nothing to do with playing with anyone else," he said. "Once you go to a new team, it takes a while to acclimated and adjusted to a new system, a new coach, new teammates. I think right now, I'm starting to hit my stride.
"...This is right around the time when everyone starts to feel comfortable. From experience, I cam tell you it takes awhile. When you come to a new team, you try not to mess anything up. At some point, you have to be able to play your game, and right now, I think I am."
While his offense is coming around, Rivers is much more concerned with what Collison can give the Clippers on the defensive end.
He's been up and down. I think he's still at that point in his career, maybe life, where he'll miss a couple of shots and it drains energy from him," Rivers said. "...He's a game-changer with his pressure, and when he does it, it's big for us."
J.J. Redick has the cast off his right hand, but he's still a few weeks away from returning, Rivers said. Redick hasn't started shooting since breaking a bone in his right hand and tearing a ligament in his right wrist against Sacramento on Nov. 29. ...Reggie Bullock, who sprained his ankle against Cleveland on Dec. 7 has started shooting on the court and is close to returning. "I joke with him and say it's been the longest sprained ankle injury in the history of the NBA," Rivers said. "You don't want that title. But, he's trying. It was a bad ankle sprain, a really bad ankle sprain."
(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services