The LA Clippers went up against the Sacramento Kings on this first night of December, 2012. As an organization and as a franchise, the Kings are a mess. The Maloof family is under financial duress and are desperate for a new arena in Sacramento and don't look like they're going to get it. As a basketball team things aren't much better. The Kings are disheveled and are playing tonight without their former-rookie of the year guard Tyreke Evans.
Clips have been playing poorly against poor teams but that doesn't happen tonight. They're up 28-17 at the end of the first quarter and up by 24 at the half.
Clips are moving the ball well, the Kings don't seem much interested in defense and the first half is a joy to behold. We get unlikely dunks by Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford, a quartet of three-balls from Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups, nifty interior moves from Deandre Jordan and Blake Griffin. Clips rebounding looks especially improved, and there's a terrific 70 foot baseball pass from Lamar Odom to Matt Barnes that results in a jam. Clips are on top and for Clipper fans all's right with the world.
It's hard to watch this game and not feel bad for the Kings and their fans. There's little on the floor for the Kings that would inspire optimism. Not only is there no new arena deal, but there are active rumors about the Maloofs reaching an agreement to move the team to the city of Virginia Beach (Really? Virginia Beach? How many people live in Virginia Beach? Can that area actually support a pro basketball team?)
Of course we're Clipper fans, and this year we're used to the Clips easing off the throttle against lesser teams. Will that happen tonight? Uh. No. Clips come out on fire and blow the lead up to thirty halfway through the third... and the game is all but over.
Marcus Thornton wakes up in the fourth with a string of threes but the gap never got closer than twenty-five and the Kings have no answer for the Clips balanced firepower. (No Clipper has twenty points but there are seven players over ten!)
A couple of quick notes:
- Chauncey Billups presence changes the game in a number of ways: He allows Chris Paul to play off the ball and frees CP up for open jumpers and quick moves to the rim. The defense can't ignore Paul so it leaves Billups free, while he's certainly not quick, he can drive to the hole, where he rarely gets to the rim, but he almost always draws a foul... and that also leaves Caron Butler open on the other side of the floor... and Butler's been cashing those open threes.
- The ghost of Lamar Odom might still be just a ghost, but he's starting to look like a clever ghost anyway. I don't think he's ever been much of a shooter, and his drives to the hole are still strange adventures but he works at his rebounds, his outlet passes are crisp, and his body seems to be catching up with his brain. It was a bit of the class LO tonight with six points, five rebounds, five assists, and NO turnovers in twenty minutes.
I think it's important not to celebrate victories like this too much... but the Clips need to learn how to knock out lesser teams and that's exactly what they did tonight. Box score's here. Clips fly to Salt Lake for a tough one on Monday night.
|Final - 12.1.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Los Angeles Clippers||28||30||29||29||116|
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