Generic no more!
I mentioned in the preview that I was going to the Viewing Party in Commerce. I had the inside scoop from Citizen Jessie that the entire Spirit team was going to be there because they were having their last rehearsal of the season, so I figured this was the one to attend.
The mood of ClipsNation lately is very somber, I can tell you that much. I don't make it to many of these viewing parties, but the group I sat with told me they're usually pretty packed. At tip off tonight, there were 7 of us. (Hi Tim, hi Steve, hi Kelly, hi Veronica, hi Sheila, hi other guy whose name I forgot.) In all, a total of 12 fans showed up. (On the plus side, everyone who showed up won something in the raffle - literally. And with 17 members of the Spirit there, the odds of chatting up a pretty girl were quite good.) But even so, everyone was bummed about the sparse turnout. I theorized that the Kaman injury was kind of the last straw for most fans. We've all been hanging on, in anticipation of when Kaman and Brand would play together, and with Kaman out the reality that the one thing we were looking forward to wasn't happening, it was just too much. So our little band settled in to watch some dreary basketball, between a team playing one of it's final games in the only city it's ever known, and a team without 4 of it's projected starters. The vibe was decidedly downbeat.
And then we saw EB in uniform and everything changed.
When he put up his first shot and it was flat and short, I thought he was going to struggle. But maybe that one was just nerves, because he looked just fine the rest of the game. Conditioning didn't really seem to be an issue - he played 26 minutes, and looked best in the fourth quarter when he played all but the final minute and helped the Clippers break open a close game. Everything got better with him on the court. Offense, defense, intangibles, tangibles. MDsr became a better coach. Ralph and Mike were better announcers. Jasen Powell was a better trainer. The uniforms even looked better. It was like when Dorothy landed in Oz and suddenly everything was in color.
19 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and a block in 26 minutes is a good day's work for an All Star who's been playing every day. For the first game in 11 and a half months, it's ridiculous.
I suppose I could say a few more things about the game. The rookie battle was pretty good. Durant (30) scored more than Thornton (21), but took more shots to do it, but Thornton complemented his scoring with 10 rebounds. So that was good.
But seriously, who really cares? EB's back, and that's the whole story. Some other day we can talk about EB and Thornton together, and the possibilities there. Or how Fazekas continues to produce. But this game is all about the return of EB. And the Clippers are undefeated with him in the lineup.