In the preview for this game I discussed how so many of the Clippers victories this season have been ugly. Going back through the 10 wins prior to tonight, it's really true. This was only their fourth double digit win of the season, and two of the earlier ones were the Indiana game in which they shot under 35% and the last Memphis game in which they played poorly for 43 minutes, and then closed on 20-0 run. So basically, you have the Golden State game, the Denver game and now tonight where the team played well more or less start to finish.
The difference is amazing. I suppose it shouldn't be such a rare occurrence, such a seeming luxury, to have multiple players play well on the same night. But for the Clippers, it almost never happens. Though many players on the team are talented and fully capable, it seems that in every game two or three or four of them are simply missing in action.
Tonight the team was firing on all cylinders. Three players scored over 20. Six were in double figures. The team shot 52% and had 30 assists and 11 blocked shots against only 10 turnovers. They outrebounded the Timberwolves 48-43 (rebounding being one of the few things Minnesota does well). They scored a season-high 120 points.
Of the top six players, only Al Thornton had anything less than a terrific game, and he was fine at 14 points on 6 for 12 shooting. The rest all made their fantasy owners very happy tonight:
- Eric Gordon - 25 points on 8 for 14 shooting (but only 7 for 13 from the line - what's the deal there?);
- Baron Davis - 13 points, 13 assists and 8 rebounds;
- Marcus Camby - 10 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks (wow);
- Chris Kaman - 23 points, 10 rebounds;
- Rasual Butler - 21 points, 5 for 8 on three pointers.
So that's what it feels like when everyone plays well at the same time. Who knew?
Now obviously, this was Minnesota, the only team in the Western Conference that's already thinking about the lottery. But still, the Wolves have been playing better lately, and the Clippers did what they needed to do to start this road trip.
It's particularly good to see Rasual Butler shooting the ball with confidence. He looked like a different player tonight. He actually made a couple of threes against Washington on Monday, but if you noticed, the first one rattled around before it went in. On his five makes tonight I don't think he touched the rim. He was really in a groove and I barely recognized him. Does this mean he's completely out of the slump? He's scored 36 points in the last two games on 13 for 26 shooting with 7 threes. It really makes a difference to have him as a threat and Gordon back. If you think about it, for most of the games that Gordon missed, Butler was struggling terribly, so during that stretch the Clippers had no outside shooting to speak of. When they have legitimate threats stretching the floor, it enhances their offense immeasurably.
Now they need to simply carry over this game into Friday night in New York.