Clippers 107 - Lakers 91 - It Was Totally Worth 5 or 6 Ping Pong Balls

As it happens, I haven't watched all of the game yet.  I was in class for most of it, and because it was on FSN West instead of Prime Ticket, my DVR did not record it automatically.  So I ended up watching the end (after it was already decided) and I've watched the first half of the replay so far (I'll finish up tomorrow).

Let's get the lottery discussion out of the way to begin with.  Yes, the Clippers hurt their lottery chances a bit.  The win, combined with New York's loss, leaves the Clippers and Knicks with identical records for the second time in three seasons.  29 wins on the season leaves LAC and NYK tied for the 8th worst record in the league.  Since the 8th seed gets 28 number combinations (we usually call them ping pong balls, but they're really number combinations) and the ninth seed gets 17 number combinations, the Clippers and Knicks will split 45 number combinations, 22 for one of them, 23 for the other.  A coin toss will determine which team gets the extra one as well as which one will pick first if neither should get into the top three.  So from 28 combinations to 22 or 23, the Clippers have hurt their odds of actually winning the lottery by .6% or .5% (there are 1000 combinations total).  Was it worth 6 tenths of a percent in the lottery to beat the Lakers, and split the season series?  You bet it was. The fact that the win gives the Clippers a winning home record on the season at 21-20 is a little icing on the cake.

Steve Blake clearly gets the game ball in this one, recording the first triple double of his 499 game NBA career.  He was everywhere at once the entire game, and led the team beautifully.  It certainly didn't hurt that he made 8 of 12 field goals, and 4 of 6 threes.  The alley oop he threw to DeAndre Jordan was really special.  Everyone focuses on DJ's reverse finish on that dunk, and it was indeed nasty.  But Blake's pass was perhaps the tougher play: off his back foot, from the hip, with decent ball pressure on him, from beyond the three point line.  I'm not a particularly good basketball player, but one thing I've always done well is see the floor.  I usually see things as they're happening pretty well, but when Blake threw that pass, I had no idea what was happening - I didn't see DJ open at all.  And I didn't have Derek Fisher in my grill.

Does the game mean anything?  Nothing at all.  Milph and Michael Eaves and Don MacLean can talk about ending on a high note and having momentum going into the offseason and impressing free agents and all that kind of stuff, but think about it.  With Eric Gordon and Baron Davis sitting out, the Clippers had two players on the floor that are likely to be on the team next season - Chris Kaman and DeAndre Jordan.  So yeah, the winning team tonight forms a nice nucleus for next season, if you consider having one position covered a nucleus.  Obviously, I'd rather win the last game of the season by 16 than lose it by 41.  And one really practical benefit of this win is that it will show up on screens like the espn.com Clippers page as their last game for the next five months (I hated that OKC score all last summer - I'm going to enjoy the LAL score this summer).  But given that the team that won this game has almost no bearing at all on next year's team, it's silly to talk about this game meaning anything in the context of the future for the franchise.  It was one win at the end of the season against a Lakers team that had nothing to play for.  It was fun and I always want to beat the Lakers - but let's not pretend it means anything.

We'll have lots of time now to break down coaching candidates, and potential draft picks, and free agents, and Bird rights of existing players, and we'll start all of that soon enough.  But for now, the Clippers split the season series with the Lakers, winning both games on the Clipper floor, and had a winning home record his season.  It's not much, but it's something, and I'm going to enjoy it for the time being.

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