Baron, Camby Return - Clips Lose Badly

From ESPN:

"Obviously they look rusty," Dunleavy said. "These are guys that haven't had practice time at all."

Davis agreed with his coach, saying: "It felt a little different than playing one-on-one or two-on-two out there. At this point, I just have to find my legs and work myself back into shape."

Davis said if not for the injuries, he believes the Clippers would be contending for a playoff berth.

"We're just going to continue to work hard and wait for everybody to come back and get into a groove and a rhythm," he said. "We still have the second half of the season to prove who we can be going into next year."

Camby said he's still a few days from being back to where he wants to be.

"But I felt well enough to go out there and get some minutes in and compete with the guys," he said. "It was definitely a frustrating loss for us, but we're starting to get guys back out there. I think we're out of synch as a team."

Baron and Camby returned and the Clippers lost badly. Was it all their fault? No. But did it mess up the "underdog" bench mob chemistry that was powered by gobs of effort and sub par talent? Maybe. I had a feeling the last two weeks was a stack of cards that looked beautiful but was ready to come crumbling down at any moment.

That moment was when Mardy Collins went down last week. Sure Eric and Al tried to pick it up even more after Mardy went down, but I think they just ran out of gas. Eric Gordon has repeatedly said that he doesn't think he'll hit the "rookie wall".

I think he might have squashed his nose on it tonight and bruised his orbits. His stats might look OK but he looked tired and lost out there tonight. His defense was one step too slow or totally lost when switching with Camby and Baron.

All in all, everyone on the roster looked bad through most of the game. It was ugly. It's over.

My Enduring Positive Thoughts About the Future

I know Clipper Nation is tired of being told to be patient, but that's all we can do. I STILL think this can be a great team after all are healthy. I really like the youth factor.

In years past I was always thinking "Sam's getting old, we gotta get someone to take over. Cuttino's getting old, who are we gonna get to give him spells and eventually take over? Tim Thomas is getting old too and he's only good for so many minutes."

On the bench, I'd look at Dickau and Knight and Frahm and Fazekis. Before that I'd look at Livingston and Korolev and Ewing. I loved big Z Rebraca and asked Q Ross about him returning from injury only to hear that he hadn't seen him at all and sure enough he vanished into the night. (Kinda liked Cherokee too...)

But no matter how much I thought about it, I always thought the Clippers could be a DECENT team. Not really awesome. Just DECENT.

But now I look at the roster and see that Baron and Camby are the oldest guys out there. But I'm not freaked out. I'm not looking at Shaun waiting for him to take over Baron's spot in a couple years. I see Gordon and Taylor, heck maybe even Collins off the bench for big minutes. All young and relatively sturdier looking than poor little rail-thin "will he ever be the same again" Shaun.

Camby's replacement? DeAndre - ready and waiting to improve - and only 20 years old as well.

Corey and Elton gone? Thornton and Randolph can pick up where they left off. Maybe even perform better AND they are younger as well.

Even the bench has improved dramatically in quality. Taylor, Collins, Novak, Kaman or Camby, Jones, Davis.

This team could still be AWESOME. They just need time together. All healthy at the same time.

So before we ship off Baron or Dunleavy or anyone else let's see how it pans out and hope for the best.

I want the team to get healthy and gel by the end of the season. I want this core to stay intact until we can definitely say that they were all healthy, all had a chance to learn Dunleavy's system and had time to practice and execute in game situations for at least a month or so.

1. Baron Davis
2. Zach Randolph
3. Marcus Camby
4. Chris Kaman
5. Al Thornton
6. Eric Gordon
7. Mardy Collins
8. Mike Taylor
9. DeAndre Jordan

These 9 guys are who I definitely want to see succeed as Clippers. I want these 9 guys to have a chance to gel and show us how good they can be. If the experiment doesn't work, then we talk trades.

I like Jones. I like Novak. Don't hate Skinner. Don't really know what to think of Ricky. Don't like Hart. Don't really think much either way of Cheikh Samb. Either way I won't be too upset if these guys are waived or traded for cap space, etc.

So, as ugly as tonight's loss was I am really looking forward to the end of the season. I hope we get a great preview of an awesome '09 -'10 Clipper team.

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