New Look Clippers Show Off Their Star Power

December 19, 2011

Los Angeles – Recently-acquired veterans Chris Paul, Caron Butler, and Chauncey Billups made their informal Los Angeles Clippers debut Sunday afternoon, as they participated in the team’s intra-squad scrimmage in front of 6,203 enthusiastic fans packed inside USC’s Galen Center.

The starting unit ended up winning the contest in overtime, 35-32, but most in attendance were less concerned about the score, and more focused on seeing how all the new talent would mesh on the floor.

With longtime fan “Clipper Darrell” leading the way, the LA family warmly welcomed the team’s newest members, as the fans broke into spontaneous chants of “Chauncey” and “CP3” during team introductions.

Paul appreciated the greeting, saying after the game that he was “extremely grateful for the welcome by the fans.”

Coach Vinny Del Negro’s first team, or the “Blue” squad, began the game with Paul and Billups starting in the backcourt, DeAndre Jordan at center, and Griffin and Butler at the forwards.

The opposing second unit, or "White" team, was comprised of Mo Williams at the point, Randy Foye at the 2, Ryan Gomes and Brian Cook at the forward spots, and rookie Trey Thompkins at center.

Griffin gave fans something to cheer about from the start, as he faced up against Brian Cook on the wing, and then drove for a little floater in the paint to tie the score at 2-2.

Chris Paul made his mark two possessions later, delivering a nice delayed bounce pass to Griffin off a screen-roll play for an “and one.” Griffin would sink the free throw to give the Blue squad a 5-4 edge.

The second unit responded quickly however, as Thompkins made a nice spin move on the baseline for a reverse layup and a 8-5 lead. A Gomes jumper would later extend that margin to 10-5.

Paul would score his first unofficial Clipper bucket shortly thereafter, as he rolled in a 15-foot jumper with roughly three minutes left in the first half.

But Paul’s signature moment of the first half would come when he threw a nice, no-look dime to a cutting Butler in transition for an easy score. It was the type of fast break basket that fans have eagerly anticipated since the Paul trade was made.

In the second half, the Blues began to assert themselves. A Griffin iso on the right side led to a spectacular between-the-legs crossover and dribble drive that culminated in a thunderous reverse dunk.

CP3 later added to the excitement, finding Jordan in transition for a beautiful lob dunk.

The first team would eventually find themselves up 32-29 with only five seconds remaining, but on a play set up out of a timeout, Foye came off a screen to bury a deep trey and send the game into a one minute overtime period.

In overtime, CP3 would make the game's decisive play, penetrating to the rim on a pick and roll with Jordan for a layup plus the foul. Paul would hit the free throw, giving the first team its final margin of victory.

Ultimately, the most important aspect of the scrimmage was that the parts seemed to blend decent enough, especially given the team's lack of practice time.

In addition, the Paul-Billups backcourt functioned well and showed no signs of disaster, as Billups played primarily off the ball without issue.

Billups acknowledged there would be an "adjustment because we are both lead guards, but the one common denominator is we want to win."

What We Learned From This Game

  • Paul and Jordan already seem to have good chemistry. On two high pick-and-rolls with Jordan, Paul was able to read the defense, make a quick decision, and drive all the way to the rim for an easy bucket

  • Rookie big man Trey Thompkins displayed impressive skills and looked like he belonged.  He confidently nailed two jumpers, including a spot up three, and also showed a nice drop step spin move in the post.

  • Mo Williams may not be starting, but he looked quick afoot and ready to contribute. On one play in the second half, Williams dove across the scorer's table trying to retrieve a loose ball.

  • Randy Foye looks to be in midseason form, as he drained several jumpers throughout the game.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for The Daily Sports Herald

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