New Orleans 107 - Clippers 80

I missed the first half of the game.  As I mentioned in a comment recently, my TiVo died, and I'm one of the few people who had a Toshiba box with the free 'TiVo Basic' service - turns out, no one wants to fix those, especially since there's no such thing as 'TiVo Basic' any more.

So I'm viewing this as an opportunity to dive into HD.  No, I don't have it yet - partly because of the hassle of changing the TV, the service and the DVR at the same time.  So with a dead TiVo, I called Verizon Fios to get me an HD DVR.  They sent me to one of their offices to pick up the new box, where I stood in line with the people paying their phone bills as the game was tipping off.  And after about an hour, I got to the front of the line where they told me that they didn't have the box I needed - and they told me I should have called ahead, which I did, but no one answered the phone.  So that's why I missed the first half.  And also why I hate Verizon.  But I hated Charter Cable even more than I hate Verizon, so it seems like the lesser of evils.

I did listen to some of the first half on the radio.  As the Hornets were draining 6 of their first 7 threes, I was wondering if the Clippers were at least contesting the shots.  I mean, on the radio or in a box score, you can tell yourself "That team was just crazy hot to make all those threes.  Nothing we could do about it."  But defense matters.  And NBA players shooting behind the arc in warmups will make 60% or 70%.  So which was it?  Were the Hornets just 'forget about it' hot to the point that the defense didn't even matter?  Or was  more like a shootaround out there?

I got my answer when I got home and watched the second half.  Not only did I get to see the wide open looks the Hornets were still getting, but FSN was kind enough to show me a montage of Rasual Butler's overall shooting.  In the five threes they showed him making, there wasn't a defender within 5 feet of him for any of them, and there wasn't a defender in sight on at least two of them.  So surprise surprise, the Hornets made 51% overall and 11 of their 21 threes.

Losing this game is incidental.  It would have been truly shocking if the Clippers had won any of the games on this trip.  Sure, they led Dallas by 5 late, and that was encouraging.  But look at what happened to Dallas in Phoenix.  The Mavs are not a very good team right now. 

We spent a lot of time talking about the matchup zone after the San Antonio game.  I know MDsr feels like he has to use it to keep people out of foul trouble.  But against the Spurs and the Hornets, teams that are just made to destroy the zone, don't you have to play man to man and take your chances with foul trouble?  "Well, we lost by 27 - but at least no one fouled out!  Really dodged a bullet there."

I have to admit that Mardy Collins is really surprising me.  He's got a decent handle, and playing at the point, he's got a significant size advantage in most of his matchups.  So it's tempting to think he can post up guys like Chris Paul.  And watching him, you can tell that he believes he can do it - he's not Quinton Ross, afraid to shoot.  The problem is, in his first 19 games as a Clipper, I was afraid of him shooting, even if he wasn't.  But in the last three, he's been converting a much higher percentage and has looked pretty good.  He even made 4 of 7 threes on the trip.

In that sense, although the Clippers have been severely short-handed in all of these games, it's actually pretty hard to imagine them playing much better on the offensive end.  Eric Gordon has been great, Al Thornton has been pretty good, and Mardy Collins has been much better than expected - which is to say almost acceptable.  Neither Camby nor Skinner are ever really going to make plays for you, which is a big reason why the team has so little hope without either Randolph or Kaman.  But the offense has been about as good as it can be.

In this game, even Novak chipped in with 14 points and 4 threes.

But whatever small chance they may have given themselves with better than expected offense was wiped away by very poor defense. 

By the way, how about my call on Rasual Butler?  I finally got one of them right, which is a bad thing since I can no longer eliminate one player through the power of the blog post. 

Did anyone hear Zach's phone interview in the first quarter?  Was there any news on when he might be playing again?

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