Derrick Jones Jr. deserves some leeway when it comes to cans. He is, after all, a Slam Dunk Contest winner and with a nickname like Airplane Mode he can definitely fly. But there is a time and place for big thumps, and a 23-point deficit in the second half is not one of them.
In the third quarter of the Los Angeles Clippers’ blowout victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, Jones saw an opportunity for a highlight despite his team standing tall. He took a pass from Damian Lillard and rose for dunk, but got his appearance as he could not finish the slam.
In fairness to Jones, he makes up a good percentage of the highlights he tries. He would not have won a Dunk competition if he had not done so. He’s athletic enough to pull games like this out, and dunk of the year graduates have to come up with a high degree of difficulty. In the famous words of Michael Scott (via Wayne Gretzky) you miss 100 percent of the shots you do not take. Jones went after a memorable thump and came up ridiculously short.
And given the game situation, there’s a bit of karma involved in it. Yes, such a slam may have ignited some momentum and potentially helped trigger a comeback, but realistically when you are down to 23 points, you just have to have your shots to go in. Don’t get fancy. Do not search for highlights. Just put the ball in the hanger. Jones did not do it here, and it created one of the funniest lowlights of the early season.