OK, guys, this will be a quick recap from Staples before I hit the road and head back to the LBC. Maybe I'll flesh it out some more later. Maybe not.
After being incapable of getting any stops in their first four games, the Clippers played great fourth quarter defense in this game, holding the Mavericks to just 13 points, and outscoring them 11-2 five minutes of the quarter. Unfortunately, the offense went completely AWOL after that, and LA only scored 2 more points the rest of the way, with Dallas returning the 11-2 favor to close the game.
So is there a silver lining in the fact that they actually managed to play defense? Or are we more focused on the disasterous offense down the stretch?
The reality is we knew that 0-4 was a distinct possibility. It's not good. It's near disastrous. But it was always looming. These were four good teams, and the Clippers won 19 games last season. In a sense, the team is SUPPOSED to be 0-4. And they've been competitive, with the exception of the fourth quarter versus Utah. So there are some positive things happening. As everyone knows, 0 and 4 is 0 and 4, but in fact four blowouts would be a a much worse story.
I wrote a little about the psychology of trailing in the game thread. The Clippers used that 11-2 run to forge a tie with 7 minutes left in the game. Over the next four minutes of the game, they had three consecutive possessions tied, and two more down one, with a chance to take the lead. They came up empty each time. If they get over the hump, does the game turn their way? We'll never know.
Obviously, MDsr chose to stick with Telfair, Butler and Smith rather than going back to starters Baron, Thornton and Camby down the stretch. It's hard to argue, given that that was the group that got him back in the game. Certainly Butler and Smith seemed like no-brainers. Thornton had a nightmare of a game, and Smith was doing a better job on Nowitzki than Camby had done. As for Davis - well, you might think that you would want to get the highest paid player on the team back on the floor for the close.
Dallas has, for years, been among the league leaders in fewest turnovers. I'm not sure why they've been so consistent, given that Dirk is pretty much the only player who's been there the whole time. But turnovers were a HUGE stat in this game. The Clippers turned the ball over 21 times, the Mavs just 12. Go figure - 9 more turnovers, and Dallas got nine more shots, and they won by nine. And it's a major factor - as I mentioned in the thread (and MDsr said in his post game presser), the Mavs were having trouble scoring in the half court (they shot only 41% for the game), but they got multiple easy baskets off the Clippers miscues. In fact, the Mavericks scored 24 points off of Clipper turnovers - and they only scored 93 total! That's the ballgame.
On the bright side, something must be said about Chris Kaman, who tied a career high with 27 points tonight, and was phenomenal. He was scoring facing the basket, with his back to the basket, and even finished an open court move around Jason Kidd. He also had 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. It's a shame that the Clippers have squandered four games in which Kaman has averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds.
When you looked at the schedule before the season started, it was hard not to notice the four games in five nights against teams with 45 wins. BUT, it was also hard not to notice the next seven, against teams way below .500 last season, five of those games at home. Before we panic, let's see what happens over these next few games.