In an ugly battle between two of the lowliest teams in the Western Conference, the night ended with the Kings at 8 - 24 and the Clippers, despite the loss, at an insignificantly better 8 - 22.
The game started in typical fashion for the Clippers as of late, the team barely scoring 12 points in the entire first quarter, putting them in a 15 point hole in less than 12 minutes.
While Baron Davis, Al Thornton and Marcus Camby struggled offensively, mostly missing outside jump shots, Eric Gordon and Paul Davis provided the Clippers' only consistent offense of the night.
Gordon deftly mixed up his arsenal of strong drives to the basket with a sprinkling of his 3 point sweetness, going 4 of 6 from behind the arc and recording a game high 24 points to lead both teams. He even had a comeback-motivating slam dunk, that put the Kings on their heels and had Beno Udrih ducking to avoid the destruction of the rim and possible posterizing.
Paul Davis, getting the start ahead of Skinner in place of the injured Zach Randolph, consistently cut to the basket and attacked the rim. Impressively, he got to the foul line 10 times and made all 10 free throws. He posted a career high 18 points, adding 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in the contest. His best game as a Clipper was diminished only by the fact that he could not get an 18 footer to go down with time running out at the end of the game. His last shot would have sent the game into overtime. Instead, the miss gave the Kings the gift of a win.
- Baron Davis continued his poor shooting only making 3 shots out of 17 field goal attempts. It seems he is and maybe has been playing with a bad back. He was also the center of controversy this week as his former Warriors teammate was quoted as saying that Baron wants to go back to Golden State. Baron then denied it Monday at practice, to the LA Times.
- Al Thornton also continued his poor shooting (albeit with fewer mind boggling jab steps) matching Baron with 3 shots made. He only took 12 attempts, netting him a whopping 8 points in 32 minutes. Also extremely disappointing was his botched unnecessary double-pump slam dunk attempt at the 2 minute mark of the fourth quarter. Had he made that dunk, the Clippers would have been up 92-90 with momentum on their side. They probably would have won.
- Injuries: Kaman is still out indefinitely with a bad foot, Ricky Davis is also out indefinitely with a bad knee and will have to sit out 5 additional games even after he is cleared to play (due to violating the NBA's anti-drug policies), Zach Randolph is supposedly out 1 - 2 weeks with a bruised knee, and Mike Taylor is said to be out with a broken right hand for 4 to 6 weeks.
- The Clippers bench still looks weak...although tonight's combined 14 points from Skinner, Hart, Collins and the newly acquired Fred Jones seems like an improvement considering how decimated the team is by injuries and in comparison to some of last weeks games.
- Eric Gordon continues to improve, playing veteran type offense and defense. At 20 years old his decisions and execution are notably far smarter and crisper than that of sophmore Al Thornton. He bothered Kevin Martin significantly in tonight's game, even drawing comparisons by Ralph and Mike to Q. Ross' stifling past performances. On the offensive end, I am starting to notice that he is running very hard around screens (not unlike Richard Hamilton or Reggie Miller of old). His energy and effort shine very brightly during these dark days of Clipper losses.
- Paul Davis is not chopped liver. Given more minutes to develop, Davis provided impressive interior play (4 offensive rebounds, 3 assists) and showed that despite his appearance of not having hops, he can get up there and get tip dunks on opposing centers (he jammed a miss back so hard on Brad Miller that even Sac fans gave up the nasty sound as Miller crumbled to the deck).
- Without Kaman and Randolph, with Baron and Al playing so horribly, with a new guy thrown into only his second game with them and getting significant minutes, and even with the Kings getting back their star player in Kevin Martin, the Clippers still had a chance to win this game. Yeah, there are no more moral victories but it does show that there is still potential for the Clippers to be a good team.