As it happens, the FXX channel is very near Prime Ticket on my FiOS channel lineup. It had something to do with when Fox launched Fox Sports 1, and they dropped Fox Soccer Channel, and FXX took Fox Soccer's slot, so there's this weird little island of Parks and Rec and Sunny and movies in the middle of my sports channels.
The reason I bring this up is that the movie 2012 was showing on FXX tonight -- and I'm not sure which was a greater disaster, that movie, or the Clippers game against the Sun. (I'm not referring to the end of the world depicted in the movie, BTW; I'm just saying oh my sweet FSM, what a disaster that movie is. Roland Emmerich, man. He needs to be stopped.)
Having said that, the Clippers game was so unpleasant that I stopped watching it at some point in favor of 2012. Why I settled for the closest thing in my channel guide rather than simply watching something else, something I might enjoy, I really can't say. I guess I felt like punishing myself in some way for being a Clippers fan tonight, as if the game had not been punishment enough.
It's so difficult to take anything away from a game like this. Are the Phoenix Suns the best team in the NBA? Are they head and shoulders above the Clippers, as it seemed tonight? The Suns came out and punched the Clippers in the nose with a 11-1 run to start the game, at which point the Clippers fought back with a 13-2 run of their own to take a brief lead. Then when the Suns threw another punch, the Clippers said "Oh, you were serious before? OK, we give up. You can have it."
The Clippers had another horrendous shooting night, making just 36% from the field (a number that was at 33% through three quarters before a 29 point garbage time fourth lifted their percentages a bit). But unlike other poor shooting nights when it seemed like the Clippers were just missing makeable shots, this one felt different. This one felt like the Clippers were playing 5 versus 6 or 7. Whether it was a lack of energy from L.A. or a surplus from Phoenix, the Clippers were simply never open. Even if they got past the first defender, there was a second, and a third. The Suns can't possibly be that overwhelmingly active every game, or their record would be even better than 19-11. But at the same time, I think we now know why this team has been such a surprise this season. If they play anywhere close to that hard in every game, they'll always have a chance.
All those matchups we wanted to see, all the matchups that should have favored the Clippers? Chris Paul was more or less a wash with former Clippers Eric Bledsoe, but he was thoroughly outplayed by Goran Dragic. Blake Griffin was 5-15 against Channing Frye, who in turn hit three straight threes to settle things once and for all in the third quarter. Jared Dudley couldn't even outplay his former backup, P.J. Tucker.
The Clippers were still within eight points with five minutes left in the first half, and it still felt like "OK, Chris, it's about time to get serious." But the Suns went on a 19-6 run to close the half that featured a series of steals and blocked shots and Gerald Green threes and just general mayhem, and it was never again a game -- the Clippers trailed by 21 at halftime and never got closer than 16 in the second half.
In the standings, this loss counts exactly the same as the OT loss in Portland. In some ways, the Portland loss hurts more, because the Clippers seemed to have that game won. But at least there were positive things to take away from Portland, even in a loss.
There's nothing positive to take from this. The team just has to put it behind them and not let it happen again. Just like a Roland Emmerich movie. Don't let it happen again.