Suns 106 - Clippers 98

I wrote in a post before this game that the Clippers might have a shot if Shaq didn’t play.  Well, he did, and BD didn’t.   For the record, the Clippers were without three starters, BD, Randolph and Kaman, as well as three bench players, Ricky “Blunt” Davis and Mike Taylor.  Thus, the outcome of this game, the Clippers’ sixth loss in a row, was predetermined.

The Suns blew out the Clips in the first quarter, up by 18 right out of the gate.  Amare was a man among boys.  The Suns ran their offense through Shaq at times, and Grant Hill hit a couple of threes on kickouts.  Somehow, the Clippers won quarters 2, 3 and 4.  That, however, is a somewhat misleading stat because it was clear which was the better team. 

The Suns looked good for the most part, but it seemed they got bored and lost focus.  On the other hand, the 10 Clippers who did show up did play hard.  Having said that, the Clippers couldn’t stop the Suns – who shot 55% for the game.  The Clippers, on the other hand, shot 42%. 

The Suns were of course rather efficient.  They had 25 assists.  Nash played 3 quarters and had 11 assists, JRich with 15 points, Shaq with 17 and 9, Barbosa with 12, 5 and 4, Amare had 23 and 8.  Lou Ahmundson proved to be tonight’s unsung hero, bringing a lot of energy off the bench.  

A couple of thoughts about the Clipper offense.  Other than EJ and Novak running out around screens, there is very little movement by the guards from one side of the court to the other.  This offense is all about isos, which in my view discourages team play and asks individual players to do far too much.  Unless you have superstars or mismatches, offenses tend to work much better when everyone is involved.  I think that the team would do much better running a standard motion offense and the efforts of the players out there would be rewarded more often.  For the most part, the team expended far too much energy tonight trying to score. 

Someone mentioned Thornton’s inconsistency in a post in the past few days.  You could really see that tonight.  Sometimes he makes plays that leave you breathless, like when takes that first step to the hole or gets an offensive rebound put back high above the rim.  At other times, you just have to shake your head, like when he catches the ball at the beginning of the shot clock at the elbow and shoots a fade away, without setting his feet or allowing the team to get into its offense.  He also inexplicably can’t handle the basics at times, such as mishandling the receiving end of a simple pick and roll.  Tonight he was 5 – 18.  That’s not going to get it done.  Of course, he almost got decapitated in the third on a foul by Amare. 

Gordon looked good overall tonight, finishing with 21 points.  He wasn’t shy with his shots, and the Clippers ran some screens for him, which was a good thing to see.  On the other hand, he would sometimes force the action unnecessarily, trying to do too much.  It almost appeared like he was given the green light to do whatever he wanted, which may not be surprising given number of Clippers who were hurt.  I’m not sure that we want EJ shooting threes at the beginning of the shot clock with no one under the basket.  He did have a beautiful dunk off a cut at the end of the first half.  And his D against JRich improved as the game wore on. 

Camby was a stud tonight, as usual.  19 and 23.  He alone is worth the price of admission.  He brought his all tonight, as usual, and his effort appeared to be infectious. 

As oasisman pointed out in a recent post, MDSr found a good one in Fred Jones.  The veteran, who played 33 minutes tonight, finished with 16 points and 4 assists off 4 – 12 shooting. 

Mardy Collins, Novak and Skinner all brought good effort tonight.  Paul Davis didn’t play much, which says a lot about what MDSr thinks of him. 

All in all, the Clippers played about as well as could be expected given the hand they were dealt with and the type of offense they are being asked to run.  Not holding out much hope for Sunday’s game against the Pistons (and Stuckey, who scored 39 points tonight), particularly if BD is still out. 

CS - thanks for the opportunity to write a recap.  Enjoyed it. 

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