New Jersey 103 - Clippers 87 - Pummeled, Embarrassed, Humiliated

I was in class tonight as this game was going on.  I snuck a peak at my iPod Touch during a break and saw that the Clippers were behind big in the first half.  Then I lost my signal at halftime, with the Clippers down ten.

When I got back home, I fired up the DVR to watch the second half.  All I knew of the first half was that the Clippers were trailing the Nets, and that the Nets were the worst team in the NBA AND they were playing without their starting backcourt.  I was hopeful that they'd come out re-energized in the second half, that they'd assert their authority over the game, and that I could treat the first half I hadn't watched as an anomaly and blissfully ignore it.

That plan got off to a terrific start.  The Clippers opened the second half by outscoring the Nets 12-2 to tie the game at 53.  Now that the game was once again even, it was obvious what would happen.  The 20 win team had all the momentum.  The 3 win team had built a lead and squandered it.  Things were once again set right.  The Nets would continue their quest for the worst record in NBA history.

Only it didn't work out that way.

Even when the Clippers failed to actually take the lead, and New Jersey held on through three quarters, I assumed the Clippers would still win.  Let's face it - you don't compile a 3-40 record by holding onto to 3 point leads with 10 minutes left.  But as Citizen Zhiv might say, something was very, very funky in the fourth quarter. 

Did I miss something in the first half?  Milph told me about Marcus Camby's ribs, but where was Al Thornton?  Why did he play only 7 minutes in the game and zero minutes in the fourth quarter?  It would be one thing if everything was going great in the second half, but they weren't. 

And I have to say that MDsr's decision to play Baron Davis only 2 minutes in the fourth quarter was one of the stranger coaching moves I've ever seen.  Was Baron playing well?  No.  But he's the ostensible leader of this team, so don't you have to try to comeback with him on the floor?  And if you don't, haven't you created a locker room problem?

(As an aside, I'm struck by the similarities between this situation and the Doug Christie game in New York 3 years ago.  MDsr has a new player with whom he is apparently infatuated - then it was Christie, tonight it was Bobby Brown - and he totally abandons his rotation in the second half of a game that isn't going well.  It would be one thing if the unit on the floor was making major inroads in cutting into the lead.  Only, that wasn't the case.  They hole was deep, and getting deeper.  So yes, by all means, leave the new guy out there at the point.  Three years ago Corey Maggette vented to the media after playing 17 minutes to Christie's 22.  What will Baron say after playing 2 fourth quarter minutes while Bobby Brown played 12?)

So let's see - Camby was out with bruised ribs.  Thornton was just sitting on the bench.  Eric Gordon was terrible in his comeback game (from time to time he throws passes that I would yell at the 40 somethings at the church gym for throwing).  Baron Davis was bad when he was in, and sat all be 2 minutes of the fourth.  Rasual Butler was not good.  So, yes, this is how you lose to a 3 win team.  You don't show up to play.  How do you know when you're team didn't show up?  When the opponent is running a dunk line in the fourth quarter, it's a pretty strong indication.

For the Nets, Kris Humphries had his second career high in 10 days, both coming against the Clippers.  The Clippers somehow have turned a 6 year journeyman averaging four points per game on his career into a guaranteed 20+ scorer.  Along with Brook Lopez the Nets front line pounded the Clippers inside.  In fact, one wonders if the Nets have discovered something here.  They were much better with Humphries and rookie Terrance Williams in the game.  In fact, the second half turned when they entered. 

In every season, for every team, their are a certain number of bad, bad losses.  It doesn't get much worse than this one.  Coming as it did, three games into an eight game trip, one worries about the attitude of the team on the rest of the trip.  That's without even mentioning the injury to Camby, or that fact that Gordon looked far from 100%. 

We'll find out soon enough.  The Clippers have an opportunity to lose back to back games against the two worst teams in the league when they play the Wolves on Friday.

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