Near the end of the game, I turned to Jeff and asked "What are the Clippers shooting? Other than Gordon and maybe Kaman, I bet no one is over 40%." Well, I was not 100% correct, but I wasn't too far off. Camby managed 3 for 7, and Paul Davis was 1 for 2. But Baron Davis (6 for 16) and Al Thornton (5 for 18) by themselves easily brought the team percentage down to 38%.
In fact, given the shooting percentages (49% vs. 38%) and the rebounding discrepancy (48 to 37 in favor of the Hornets), I'm hard pressed to understand how the Clippers were within 6 points in the fourth quarter of this game. Seriously... how is that possible? Weird.
I alluded to this in the preview, but the Hornets are a matchup nightmare for the new-look Clippers. Neither Chris Kaman nor Marcus Camby really wants to stay home on David West. West is in fact maybe the worst matchup in the league for the 'let's play two centers and see how it goes' Clippers. The guy is just automatic from 17 feet, and he's fully capable of blowing by guys if they overcommit on the closeout - which in fact he also did several times. Looking at the box score, I'm shocked that he actually missed 9 shots (he finished 12 for 21, a mere 57%). I remember two meaningless misses at the end after the game was decided, but it seemed like he made absolutely everything in the second and third quarters. He's always been a Clipper-killer and tonight was no exception.
So, given the combination of big nights for West and Chris Paul (who recorded a triple double), the rebounding edge for the Hornets and the Clippers poor shooting, the outcome was inevitable.
But there was still something to cheer about.
Eric Gordon scored 25 points on 9 for 18 shooting and 4 for 8 threes. He took the ball to the hole strong, and maybe he'll get some calls when the refs learn his name. (Anybody out there have a visceral hatred of Steve Javie, or am I the only one?) He also had 4 steals and drew the defensive assignment of Chris Paul. (Contradiction alert - wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that MDsr was talking about protecting EJ's fragile ego but not playing him against the likes of Kobe and other top shooting guards? So now he puts Baron on Rasual Butler and sticks the rookie on CP3. Does this mean we're not worried about his confidence any more?) Gordon was terrific, and is going to be a very good shooting guard in this league, and may indeed be able to play some point. I think it would be wise to hand the starting job to him now, with or without Ricky Davis' tendonitis. Let's get through the learning curve sooner rather than later, and oh by the way make some shots along the way.
Mike Taylor also displayed his talents, and although he got out of control at times, his talent and hustle are welcome additions to this team. His ability to pick NBA point guards clean one-on-one is uncanny. I'm more and more convinced that he's going to be a good pro. He's going to mature and figure out when to use that speed of his and when to slow down the pace. Even DeAndre Jordan got his first non-garbage minutes of the season. Too bad CP3 sniffed out that lob play - but glad to see the Clippers reaching deeper into the playbook, even if it didn't work out.
The rebounding is an enigma and quite troubling. New Orleans is not a particularly good rebounding team, and this was supposed to be the Clippers forte. I realize that all the misses on the Clippers' end helped the Hornets pad their defensive rebounding stats, but still. Kaman did not have a very strong rebounding game with 7, but it's the team outside of Camby and Kaman who have to do a better job. Thornton, 4 rebounds - Peja Stojakovic, 9. Not good.
But the biggest concern has got to be Baron Davis. Although he finished the game with a statistically acceptable 19 points and 8 assists, he isn't giving the Clippers the big time offensive option that he was supposed to bring. Maybe it really is the MDsr system holding him back. Maybe Baron is still bothered by his finger. I don't know. What I do know is that the Clippers will continue to lose with this mild-mannered guy with the beard running the team.