Baron Davis caught fire in Portland scoring 27 points, the biggest three coming in the fourth quarter with less than a second left in the game. His long range prayer over Fernandez tied the game at 97 sending it into overtime. He stayed aggressive in the two subsequent overtimes leading the Clippers to their 5th win of the season.
Sam Cassell used to call EB the Clipper's "horse". He was a workhorse and the team's fortune seemed to ride on his broad shoulders.
I think it's safe to say the Clipper's have a new "horse" - maybe even a stallion in Zach Randolph. He has been a 20/10 player every game with his new team and did not disappoint in his old hometown (in which he still actually owns a home).
Despite loud boos from the crowd, Z-Bo went for 38 and 11, starting slowly but staying steady and true offensively throughout. His feathery soft touch around the rim and perfectly arched jumpshots, silenced the crowd over and over. His defense may not be as good as Brand's but his youth and better offense seem to more than make up for it.
- Gordon went for 17 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists but more importantly, finally made a clutch shot. In previous games Gordon has had multiple opportunites to make critical shots in the final minutes, but missed badly, severely diminishing the Clipper's chances of winning. Tonight he got a ricochet off a blocked Baron attempt and seemingly put it up automatically with 41 seconds left in the final OT. It pretty much sealed the game.
I was glad to see him make that shot for two reasons.
- It showed that he hasn't backed away from shooting at the end of games. He could have let his previous bad misses make him doubt himself and pass up shots he could take. But all good players, especially pure shooters like Gordon, need to keep shooting and cannot let the misses affect them. (Case in point - Ray Allen last year, end of season)
- It may give him the confidence to develop into a clutch shooter, that the Clippers so desperately need. It seems that all opponents know that Baron is going to take the last shot and they seem to smother him at the end of games. Gordon needs to learn to keep his composure at these moments when Baron is double or even triple teamed, so he can be ready to take and make the open shot.
- Paul Davis played 18 good minutes. I really like his work on the boards (although it didn't show in the stat sheet tonight). His stats might not always justify how much I like him so all I can say is this - for the most part, I feel like the Clippers play solidly when he is in the game. He seems very active setting screens, cutting to the basket and following teammates misses. He fights for rebounds,delaying the fast break for opponents and he's not a one trick pony. I like the fact that he has both a mid range jumper and that he can and seems willing to slam dunk the ball. (That's one thing I really didn't like about the Clippers even when they were good. Elton, Chris and Corey did not dunk enough and I think they got a lot of their shots blocked or deflected because of it. It always frustrated me.)
- Mardy Collins is not chopped liver. D'Antoni might have thought so but with Cat gone and Ricky out, Collins filled in nicely tonight, not bringing much in the way of points but just hustling out there for 27:43. He got some rebounds and assists but mainly played defense and facilitated getting the ball to Baron, Zach & company (including a dish for a nice Paul Davis double handed slam dunk).
It was FINALLY good to see the Clipper's FIGHT for a WHOLE ENTIRE game. I've been really happy with the Clippers for the first 36 to 43 minutes of each game, for about the last two weeks, only to sigh in disgust in the final minutes as they gave away games they should have won. So the win tonight, on the road, was very satisfying to see. I think Baron and Camby especially deserved a win for all they've been doing, trying to keep the Clippers "in" each game. But with another day comes another foe...
The last time they played Houston there really was no hope of them ever winning. Let's see if they can at least keep it close tonight.