Here's the deal.
It's late, and I have a cold. I didn't get the chance to watch the game on the DVR until after 10 PM, so now I'm going to dash off some thoughts and then hit the hay. With two off days before the Spurs come to town, we'll have more time for reflecting on this game - that is if we want to, which we may not.
On one level, one wants to give some credit to the Clippers for leading most of the way against a supposedly good Hawks team on the road at the tail end of an eight game trip. ESPECIALLY when one considers that no Clipper had a particularly good game. Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon tied for team high scoring honors with 17 apiece, and Kaman shot 7 for 21 while Gordon was 6 for 17.
But there aren't any moral victories; not when you've only got two wins on your road trip. And hanging on to win this game would have changed the complexion of this trip entirely. Instead of "3-5 with two straight wins over playoff teams" they're "2-6 including losses to the two worst teams in the league." Did you hear the difference in those two phrases? You have to do the first one like Giselle from Enchanted and the second one like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh for the full effect.
Three main points before I get some rest:
- Kaman was astoundingly bad. His three third quarter turnovers were Stephen King scary. (And yet, in that mysterious plus/minus stat, he was plus 2. What game was I watching?) But, if there's a bit of a silver lining here, I'm relieved to report that this was not, in my opinion, classic Mr. Flippy. The many, many bunnies he missed were (for the most part) good, strong moves - he just couldn't make shots. Would I prefer him to dunk some of those balls? Sure, but that's not really who he is. The turnovers were classic AD/HD Kaman, or whatever his current medical file says he's got. But mostly he hurt the team by missing shots. It happens. My guess is he'll make those shots next game.
- The Hawks had four big runs in the game. In the first three, they cut the lead from six to one on five straight in the second, turned a nine point deficit into a three point lead on an 18-6 run spanning halftime, and whittled a 13 point lead down to one with twelve straight at the end of the third. On each of those occasions, the Clippers responded, almost immediately, with runs of their own to push the lead back out. But when the Hawks went on a 21-6 spurt starting at the 8 minute mark, the Clippers didn't have an answer. Maybe they just ran out of gas. Maybe they just ran out of time.
- In that final run, the big difference was the ability to make shots. The Clippers had PLENTY of good looks to hold onto their lead. Gordon missed some easy ones, Baron Davis missed an easy one, Marcus Camby missed two key free throws, and of course Kaman was missing makeable shots all night. Meanwhile on the other end, the Hawks were hitting some high difficulty shots, particularly Jamal Crawford. Oh, and they were making their free throws (12 of 13 down the stretch). I could nitpick about Eric Gordon not getting calls that the refs gave to Joe Johnson, but for the most part it came down to making shots. The Hawks did, the Clippers didn't.