Mike Dunleavy once again fails to get his team to execute any kind of effective offensive sets in the fourth quarter, relying on more isos, post-ups and bad jump shots, giving away a lead and victory to the Orlando Magic.
The mood was very subdued throughout Staples Center all night, even when the home team was able to take a 9 point lead into half time. There was very little excitement in the air, almost as if the crowd knew that a halftime lead means absolutely nothing in Clipperland.
DJ Dense (What a name! But perfect for someone whose job is to constantly believe that people will get up and be excited when he says they can help the Clippers get a victory) prodded the fans to get up and cheer, asking them to shout the name of their favorite player - only to hear two people shouting "Dwight Howard".
To add to the woeful ineptness of the Clippers fourth quarter offense, one official, who consistently believed that Baron Davis missed layups and fell down all by himself, without being touched by the two or three Magic defenders inside Baron's jersey - could not find his whistle.
It took an awful crashing sound, the sound of a $65 million lower back, breaking on the floor after being shoved in midair by one Brian "I can't jump so I pull everyone down with me" Cook for an official to finally call a foul in favor of Baron. The crowd made it's loudest sound of the night - a group "ooooohhhh, ouch" - followed by boos as the video screen showed the precious Clipper point guard being slammed in the air, then falling squarely on his back, his head getting whiplashed and jolted onto the hardwood floor.
I'm sure Baron saw little birdies flying around after that, but he tried to gut out the rest of the game but could not accurately aim his 3 ball that would have brought them back within 4 points. (or was it 3? or 5 points? - I don't know - MY head hurt the whole fourth quarter)
Whatever the score was, that miss sealed the deal. People left in herds, some screaming, others purple faced with disgust over the fourth quarter collapse. I think the Clippers may be charged with manslaughter someday soon, because some poor Clipper fan is seriously going to blow an artery and fall over dead in Staples if they keep losing games like this.
I have no analysis of why they lost or how they can fix this. I don't know who was in for how many minutes. I am past that tonight.
I am simply frustrated and tired of being teased by the possibilities of what this team should be, and what they actually are for 36 - 43 minutes. They are good and even great for short stretches of time, sometimes almost even the whole time.
But close gets you nothing in the NBA and that's all the Clippers are. Close.
(I am still reserving final judgement until game #25, now only 4 games away. I will make my statement on if I believe their season is definitely over after that game. But it sure feels like it already...)