When I heard that neither Kevin Martin nor Ron Artest were going to play in this game, I became very concerned. The one thing the Clippers needed was a good solid effort, and having the Kings two big names scratch at the last minute is not conducive to energy. Besides, the Kings played a slew of games with those guys hurt this season and did fine. If you watched them against the Lakers last night, you know that they all stood around and watched Ron Ron go one on one in the fourth quarter. When they give the ball to Miller in the high post and cut to the basket, that's when they scare me.
Sure enough, the Clippers came out super flat, and fell behind in the second quarter. Still, I thought they might be outplayed by John Salmons and Brad Miller. I had no idea that Mikki Moore and Quincy Douby would be incapable of missing.
With Chris Kaman playing limited minutes, Corey Maggette's jump shot missing, Cat Mobley missing altogether, and Al Thornton struggling, early in the third quarter the Clippers fell behind by 17. Although they did manage to cut it to 8 by the end of the quarter, it was still far from clear where they could get enough offense to win the game.
But Thornton, who had 5 points in the game through three quarters, scored 9 in the fourth, and Dan Dickau added 8. With the Clippers still down 5, Dickau made a corner three to cut the lead to 2. After a stop and a great defensive rebound by Kaman, Thornton made a very tough 18 footer to tie the game with 18 seconds left. It was the first time the Clippers had not trailed since 29-27. They got the stop they needed on the final Kings possession and the game went into OT.
In the first OT it was Josh Powell's chance to be the hero. His 10 foot baseline jumper with 23 seconds left once again tied the game.
The decisive second OT once again belonged to Thornton and Dickau. Dickau opened the period with a three from the same corner where he had scored in the final minute of regulation. On the second possession, Thornton blew by Mikki Moore on the baseline and finished with a reverse jam - his best dunk of the season, and that's saying something. He added a free throw for the and one. On the third possession, Thornton made a three of his own. Three possessions, 9 points. In fact, the Kings then got a stop, and actually scored on their first four possessions of the second overtime, but the Clippers were getting three each time, so they still had a one point lead at that point. When Dickau made a runner to give the Clippers a six point lead with 28 seconds left, the lead was finally safe.
Thornton started the game 1 for 7. He made 9 of 14 from that point. He scored 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime on his way to 27. Dickau scored 13 of his season high 20 in the same span. It's funny - I just called out Dickau after the last game, and he shows up with 8 for 13 and 4 threes.
Kaman finished the game with 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks in 35 minutes. It was easily his best game in a while, although he did look a little jumpy at times. But he sure does like playing against the Kings. He was supposed to be limited to 30 minutes tonight, but when the game went into overtime and he was sitting on 30, MDsr left him out there. When the game went into another OT, they pulled him. Fortunately the Clippers made their shots in that second OT, because Kaman had really been anchoring the defense. When Kaman was on the floor, the Clippers were the much better team. He finished the game +9 in his 35 minutes, and of course he didn't play at all in the second overtime. Which means that the team was +9 with him for 35 minutes, and -9 without him for 18, through the end of the first OT. For the most part, he looked very good. Let's hope he doesn't suffer any ill affects of the extended minutes.
With Kaman limited, Tim Thomas out and Aaron Williams pulling spot duty, Josh Powell played a team high 51 out of 58 minutes. Go figure. He responded with his first career double double, 10 points and 11 rebounds. And his basket at the end of the first overtime must surely be the most important points of his pro career.
Maggette did not have a good game, shooting only 6 for 21. Of course he still managed to get to the line 13 times where he made 12 of them, and he had a season high 8 assists as well.
You know who else didn't have a good game? The refs. Kings fans can't be happy with the lack of a call for Brad Miller at the end of regulation. They would probably have a better case if John Salmons hadn't gotten a questionable call on the possession prior. The refs tried to make up for the Miller non-call by calling the worst flagrant foul I've ever seen when Kaman made a play on the ball, and actually got the ball. I wasn't even sure it was a foul - it certainly wasn't a flagrant. In a tie game, in overtime, that was a huge call. Miller and the Kings failed to take full advantage however, as Miller made only one of the free throws, and the Clippers then got a stop. The next possession, a ridiculous loose ball foul called against Dickau (apparently Jim Clark believes little Dan has the strength to send Mikki Moore flying out of bounds and that there was no acting at all on Moore's part) gave the Kings another chance to take a commanding lead. But once again they failed to capitalize as Moore made only 1 of 2 free throws.
If the refs tried to give the game to the Kings in the first OT, they made sure it stayed with the Clippers in the second. A flagrant called on Miller sent Powell to the line for two free throws - certainly they had to call it a flagrant after the call that they had made in the first overtime, but neither of those is a flagrant foul in my book. (By the way, that was a HUGE play. If you'll recall, the Clippers lead was down to 1, and they had nothing going on during the possession. Powell had the ball at the top of the circle with 5 on the clock - not exactly what the coach was looking for. But he beat Miller with the dribble and drew the foul. Like I said, a huge play.) Later in the period, when the Kings needed to foul to stop the clock, they thought they had hit Al Thornton hard enough to get a whistle after an inbounds pass, but no whistle blew, and Thornton burst toward the basket for a dunk. When Miller once again got no call on his next shot, he'd seen enough and took a swipe at Thornton. Miller wasn't mad at Al - he was mad at the refs, and I can't say as I blame him. They were not good.
So for the second time this season, the Clippers end a long losing streak thanks to the Kings. Kaman's not the only one who wants to see those guys more often.