STRK Won 2
The Clippers had not won consecutive games since opening the season 4-0. Here are the 13 games prior to tonight when they could have started a win streak.
- at Golden State
- at Phoenix
- at Charlotte
- at the Lakers
- New Orleans
- at Utah
- at New Orleans
- at Minnesota
- at Boston
- at Philadelphia
They could have won back to back games by beating Miami, the team with the worst record in the NBA. Or Minnesota, with the worst record in the West. Or Washington, with Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas out. Or Charlotte or Philadelphia for that matter. But they didn't manage to win any of those games.
No, they finally got it done against the hottest team in basketball, the Utah Jazz, who were 19-3 in the last 22 games before tonight. And they did it in convincing fashion. The final margin of 114-104 doesn't really tell the story - the Clippers led by 20 or more for much of the fourth quarter, the last time at 114-93 with just over two minutes left. Utah scored the final 11 points of garbage time to make the final score look more respectable.
In fact, I feel compelled to de-garbage the box score a bit. The Clippers played really well in this game, and it doesn't look nearly as impressive in the final tally as it should. For instance, the Clippers had 7 turnovers in the first 44 minutes of the game, and committed 4 more in the final 4. They missed their last 6 shots, taking their 52% shooting down to 48%. Curse you, garbage time!
How strange, that two seasons in a row, the Jazz look unbeatable against the Clippers for several games, and then absolutely implode in one. It took them a little longer in this one - it was a 2 point game with 30 seconds left in the first half. But the Clippers scored the last 4 points of the half to take a 6 point lead, and then poured it on in the second half. An 11-0 run gave the Clippers a 16 point lead 5 minutes into the period, and they maintained it at double digits the rest of the way.
Corey Maggette and Al Thornton each had 27 points for the Clippers, and both of these guys are just playing incredible basketball right now. Maggette was 7 for 10 from the field (that's correct, 27 points on 10 field goal attempts). He made both of his threes and all 11 of his free throws (Utah was nice enough to give the Clippers 6 free points on technical fouls, and Corey converted 5 of those). He also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists and drew at least three charges.
Meanwhile Thornton had 14 of his 27 in the fourth quarter to slam the door on any possible Utah comeback. More impressive was the array of one-on-one moves he used to get his points. The simple truth is that he forces shots quite a bit right now, but he still manages to make a good percentage of them. When he adds a little more polish to his game, and figures out how to use his teammates better (and he will), he's going to be that much more of a force on offense. The jump shot he made over Boozer AND Harpring was just silly - he was double teamed, he'd been hammered once by Boozer, he wasn't squared up to the basket - pretty much nothing about it was a good shot. And yet it went in. The guy is just a scorer.
Kaman had a nice game. Not a great game, but a nice game. Cat Mobley led the way in the decisive third quarter. About that: did anyone else find it strange when Sloan took Brewer out in the third? Yes, Cat had just beaten him twice in a row. But putting the 6'2" Ronnie Price on him didn't seem like the right way to go. Cat just continued torching Price. Meanwhile, with Brevin Knight picking up his fourth foul and Sam Cassell not playing, I was scared to death of what Deron Williams was going to do to Dan Dickau. By bringing in Price for Brewer, Sloan allowed the Clippers to put Mobley on Williams and Dickau on Price. It was very strange. I think Sloan sometimes puts guys in his doghouse to the detriment of his team. I'd say that happened with Brewer tonight.
It should be noted that Dickau played very well in this game. He's the only Clipper to have been with the team all season and never get a start. Even Ruben Patteson and his old Gonzaga buddy Richie Frahm have started for the Clippers this season. Dickau also leads the team in DNPs. But when he has been called upon he has played well. He ended up shooting just 2 for 9, but he made 8 free throws and finished with 13 points (his second best scoring night this season). He also played surprisingly good defense. Of all the players in the NBA, perhaps only Earl Boykins looks less like a professional basketball player. But the guy knows the game. He finished the game with 2 steals and a team-high 6 assists.
So bring on the Lakers. Let's make it three in a row!
One final, really scary note. Sam Cassell's agent David Falk was sitting courtside with Donald Sterling. Those of you at the game, did you notice the foul stench of sulfur in the air?