Well, just like I was on Tuesday, I'm really happy that this was just a pre-season game.
Then again, I can't actually believe I suffered through watching it, because it was an ugly game. As Clipper Darrell might say, this game had no alibi. 66 fouls called. 81 free throw attempts. 42 turnovers. And both teams shot in the mid 30s. Yuck.
In a game full of lowlights, the Clippers had two that really stood out.
- During a 7 plus minute stretch in the third quarter, they missed 12 consecutive shots and also turned the ball over numerous times. My eyes are still a little sore from watching.
- In the fourth quarter, they allowed Denver to grab an astounding 14 offensive rebounds. The Clippers actually played terrific fourth quarter defense, holding the Nuggets to a terrible percentage in the quarter. But they gave them so many more shots, it was enough for Denver to hold on.
And isn't it amazing that the Clippers can build an 18 point lead in Mexico City, lose it all, regain the lead, and still manage to lose, then dig an 18 point hole in LA, erase it, and again manage to lose? The common thread in those two things is the Clippers losing.
It's pre-season, so no one much cares about all that. What about the individual performances?
- Chris Kaman looked great in the first half... and then sort of disappeared in the second, which he has a strange habit of doing. We've made much of the fact that he's never had a 30 point game - he had 19 in the first half of this one, and reached 20 on the first possession of the second half. He finished with 23. Where did he go?
- Baron Davis looked great in the fourth quarter, and probably would have led the team to victory had they taken care of their defensive glass. The concern about Baron's physical condition seems unfounded after this game. On two blocked shots, he looked as explosive as we've seen him in LA. He even had a dunk in this game, and it's only pre-season.
- I don't know why Baron doesn't get more credit for what a good passer he is. I honestly didn't know he was this good a passer before he came to LA. And it's crucial for this team. Blake Griffin is a completely different player with Baron on the floor, because he's getting catches where he can do damage. The baby hook lob from Baron to Blake was simply amazing; I honestly don't know how Baron knew he was there. Did he just throw that pass blind and hope Blake was coming? When the ball left Baron's hands I thought it was a wildly errant shot - it never occurred to me that it was a pass until Griffin flew in an jammed it. Simply amazing. In the fourth quarter alone, Griffin got three dunks on Baron Davis assists.
- Eric Gordon was cold tonight, finishing a very uncharacteristic 6 for 19.
- As cold as Gordon was, the rest of the Clippers were worse from outside. Clippers not named Eric Gordon were a combined 1 for 17 from beyond the three point arc. They were terrible.
- Blake Griffin continues to amaze, with 24 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, and at least 3 drawn charges in this game. Now, of his seven made baskets, I'm pretty sure six of them were dunks, and that remains more of less the range from which he is reliable. But if he can make his free throws (and he made his first 10 tonight before missing 2 down the stretch), he'll still be an offensive force on sheer athleticism. Guys can't keep up with him and simply have to foul. The Nuggets 34 fouls came almost exclusively from their bigs. Melvin Ely fouled out in 17 minutes. Renaldo Balkman fouled out in 14 minutes. If the Clippers could have sent the game into OT, they might have won by default, as Denver was running out of bodies.
- The Clippers lack of depth certainly looks like a problem on paper, and tonight the reserves combined to make 4 shots in 27 attempts. Yikes. Craig Smith will help some there, but some guys are just going to have to play better, or it's going to be a long season.
- I thought Eric Bledsoe looked good in his 5 minutes of court time. I'd like to see him get some more burn, especially in pre-season. Speaking of which, I wonder how Vinny is going to decide who to cut if Willie Warren and Marqus Blakely never play. Warren is still hurt, but why no Blakely? He couldn't have been any worse than the other bench options today.