It was eerie and depressing today at Staples - for Mark Cuban!
His star point guard looked old and ineffective as the Mavs fell to the Clippers, 103 to 92.
In contrast the Clipper's new point guard looked like he was starting to feel better - scoring, dishing and smiling as he listened to Kidd complain about fouling him.
Baron Davis' first double double of the season (22 points, 10 assists) has earned his team their first win. Coincidence? I think not.
So other than Davis, why did the Clippers look so much better today, able to post a double digit win against a former playoff power in the Dallas Mavericks?
First of all, I don't think Dallas is going to be anywhere near as good as they were in years past, even when they get Howard back. (Josh Howard was inactive with a sore wrist). Their main guys are getting older and they are starting to look slow.
Second, the combination of a healthier Camby and an end of bench Paul Davis prevented another Milsap/Landry slaughtering from Brandon Bass. Bass had 12 points and 10 rebounds against Denver in their last game Friday night but was limited to 4 and 1 by the great defense from Clipper bigs today.
Less Timmy and Ricky, makes me a happy fan. Sure there will be a time and place where the Clips need them and Ricky Davis did indeed provide a little spark when they needed it today. But he also takes bad, and sometimes really bad shots.
Paul Davis and Eric Gordon REALLY want to play and today - it showed.
(A Paul Davis note. He is a BIG guy. I met him last week and in person, I was just in awe of the size of his calves. Most people notice upper body definition but I think those big calves are gonna help him shove around other bigs with stick legs. The man is built SOLID. If he can knock down his shot and bang down low, the Clippers bigs are going to be able to take on any team in the league.)
Gordon was solid, if not spectacular. What was he doing that I liked? He guarded 1 through 3, from Kidd to Terry to Stackhouse and Greene. Yes, former slam dunk champ, crazy athletic, spring legged Gerald Greene. Gordon guarded them all very well. In fact Eric also got 3 steals, although the box score will only credit him with 2 AND he shot 75% from beyond the arc (3 of 4) and shot 50% from the field. SOLID. He got almost 30 minutes while Ricky got close to 20. Perfect rotation.
Gordon also looked very confident handling the ball, taking pressure off Baron or Hart/Taylor when needed. As a fan you just feel better when you see the other team trapping Baron and Gordon is there to relieve the pressure. If he can develop into a point guard...he wouldn't be crazy to think he could be an All Star someday. (He may be slightly undersized to stay at SG in the NBA - although he is the same height as Wade - but Wade handles the ball a lot, almost like a point guard)
Dunleavy quit using his 9 man Novak rotation and kept fresher legs on the floor. He used Hart AND Taylor today, dialing Baron back to about 37 minutes. He used Paul Davis (18 mins) and less Skinner (7 mins). He used his entire bench and I believe it helped them from collapsing in the second half as in previous games. In fact they scored MORE in the second half today (56 points - 30 in the fourth!)
So the Clippers outplayed Dallas today to the great dismay of one Mark Cuban. I guess money doesn't always buy happiness.