The NBA can be very strange.
Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers — three of the four best teams in the NBA — all took Ls to teams under .500.
The Clippers were without Blake Griffin (rest), but their double-overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets (127-122) was arguably the most perplexing loss of the night.
Let’s completely ignore the cliche (and correct) “they’re all NBA teams” stance: having to play 10 extra game minutes against these Nets is meme-worthy. Luckily Doc Rivers gave us plenty of ammo:
When your credit card gets declined and you've gotta act like it's the store's fault https://t.co/CTIQ7a3pDz
— Okera J (PHI: 5-6) (@OkeraJ) November 30, 2016
The Nets overcame a triple-double from Chris Paul (26 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds) thanks to a career performance from Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick. That, of course, begs the question…
WHO THE HECK IS SEAN KILPATRICK
For the 2K junkies out there, Kilpatrick was last season’s Josh Selby — the undersized, athletic guard that could dunk on you and hit threes from anywhere, but can’t guard your controller:
In real life, Kilpatrick, an undrafted guard out of Cincinnati, is technically in his third season; the kicker being he’s only played in 52 games and has essentially been the UDFA version of Luke Ridnour.
He’s been signed and/or waived by five different teams already: the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Denver Nuggets and finally the Nets.
Kilpatrick broke out for Brooklyn last season. He only appeared in 23 games, but averaged 13.8 points while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from deep (4.2 attempts) in a little over 23 minutes a night.
This season, Kilpatrick is averaging a career-high 16.1 points and 4.8 rebounds, though his efficiency (42.1 FG%, 33.7 3PT%) has taken a hit. Tuesday night, he put up the best game of his career, carving up the Clips to the tune of 38 points and 14 rebounds, with 31 points and 11 rebounds coming in the last 22 minutes of the game.
THE FOURTH-QUARTER HEAT-UP
Kilpatrick was off to an objectively terrible start through three quarters. He had seven points on 3-14 shooting from the field and 1-5 shooting from three. A switch was flipped in the fourth — and the Clippers forgot out to defend, apparently — with the guard exploding for 20 points on 7-10 shooting (3-3 from three).
It started with this three:
Joe Harris dumped the ball off to Trevor Booker in the post, then cleared out while setting a flare screen for Kilpatrick. Austin Rivers elected to dig down, then commit to a double-team as Booker got ready to spin to the middle, opening up the trey-ball:
A little later, Brook Lopez drew the double and kicked it out to Kilpatrick, who knocked down another trey over the late closeout of Jamal Crawford.
In addition to heating up from three, Kilpatrick also got going as the pick-and-roll ball-handler. After shooting 0-4 through the first three quarters, he knocked down two of his three attempts in the fourth as the pick-and-roll initiator:
The first bucket was my favorite. We’ll call this one the Joe Johnson Special.
Kilpatrick went over the screen and drove right while keeping Chris Paul on his hip. Towards the end of the drive, he cut off Paul and hit DeAndre Jordan with a subtle inside-out move before pumping and scoring:
Later, Kilpatrick and Booker set up the high pick-and-roll again. Kilpatrick came hard off the pick, then used an inside-out dribble to create a little bit of space to splash home a drifting mid-range jimmy.
THE OVERTIME PERIODS
Kilpatrick cooled off in extra time, missing all four of his three attempts and shooting 4-10 overall. He did lead all scorers with 11 points and grabbed five rebounds.
Kilpatrick thrived in the paint, blowing past one of the best defenders in the game in Paul and abusing Jordan on switches:
Here, Kilpatrick got Jordan on a switch and pulled him out to the three-point line. Jordan tried to shade Kilpatrick towards the baseline, but the guard set DeAndre up with a beautiful left-to-right crossover that left the big man in the dust:
On this play, Kilpatrick and Booker once again set up for a high pick-and-roll. Kilpatrick went away from the screen with a crossover, and Paul did a solid job staying connected and funneling him towards help in the paint. The help just happened to be J.J. Redick instead of Jordan, who was stuck at the three-point line to account for Lopez:
Even #MOAR high pick-and-roll. Kilpatrick went away from the screen again and drove right with Paul sticking with him. Then came a slick shoulder into the chest of Paul to create separation for the layup over the outstretched arm of Luc Mbah a Moute:
The dagger was quick, but certainly wasn’t painless. Paul jumped at Kilpatrick, seemingly trying to force him to the middle. The Nets guard attacked CP3’s left foot hard, and Paul simply couldn’t recover. Once at the elbow, Kilpatrick bounced right like a running back looking for a hole, catching Jordan — who was already trying to slide over to contain the drive — out of position. Jordan got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, and that’s all she wrote.
Kilpatrick splashed, sliced and dashed his way through the Clippers’ defense in the fourth quarter and overtime periods. The Nets aren’t expected to be very good this year, so this is the early favorite for their performance of the year.