After beating the Philadephia 76ers 103-97 in overtime, the Clippers are now 6-2. First place in the Pacific Division going on 2 weeks. Third best record in the NBA. 6-0 at home. And they just SUCK!
They start almost every game in a funk. The Clippers have trailed at the end of the first quarter in 7 out of 8 games this season. The only time they led after 1 it was 22-16 against the Hornets in one of the worst quarters of basketball I've ever seen - the Hornets just sucked worse.
After the first period against the Sixers, the Clippers were behind by 12, and I was pretty sure they were going to win the game. Why? When you shoot 3-16 and commit 7 turnovers in a quarter, it is a gift from FSM to be down only 12.
The deficit had been 25-9 at one point, but it only took them until 40 seconds into the second half to erase those 16 points and even the score. At which point I thought, "Smooth sailing for the Clipper Ship from here." No such luck.
They did not manage to regain the lead, despite having several chances, until Corey made two free throws with a little over 5 minutes to play. Ah yes, says I, we'll pull away now. When Maggette and Ross hit back to back J's to make the lead 88-84 with less than 2 minutes to go, it was in Chick's refrigerator. But no. Six straight Sixer points and it was up to Cassell to send it into OT.
This one should have been easy. It should have been easy from the start. And it sure should have been easy after overcoming such a horrendous first quarter. But it was never easy.
Because Chris Webber's back is hurting (back in this case being a euphemism for pride) the Sixers started Shavlik Randolph at power forward. There are some pretty good big men in the NBA from Duke. Elton Brand - he's pretty good. Carlos Boozer - also pretty good. Shelden Williams - looks like he's gonna be pretty good. Shavlik Randolph couldn't start at DUKE! What the hell is he doing starting in the NBA?
Speaking of EB, he had a very EB performance in this game. 32 points on 11-19, 12 rebounds, 5 steals and a block. Nice. He even made 11-14 at the line, where he's been struggling.
QRoss was excellent. He scored 14 points on 6-8 shots, including huge hoops in the fourth and in OT. He played his usual excellent defense, and even blocked 4 shots, including a massive weakside block of a Randolph dunk. He played a career-high 48 out of 53 minutes. Why so many? Well, because some guy named Iverson played 49. Basically, if Iverson was in the game, Ross was on him (as was the case against Chris Paul in the Hornets game). It is interesting that MDSr will trust Shaun Livingston to guard Steve Nash, but not to guard Iverson or Paul.
Livingston was on the floor for most of the fourth quarter and OT, and ran the team reasonably well. In the course of about 68 seconds in the OT he demonstrated why Clipper Nation is so excited about his potential and then immediately after why we're so frustrated. On the Clippers first possession of OT, he made a pass to EB on the pick and role that only a handful of players in the NBA can make. He's big enough to see over the bodies crowding the lane, and he delivered the ball through traffic to Brand in stride for a 3 point play. Then, 2 possessions later, he simply threw the ball away. He was so focused on getting the ball to Maggette since that was the play that had been called, he telegraped an incredibly lazy pass that Kyle Korver, never one to be mistaken for Bruce Bowen, easily stole. The amazing thing is that Livingston had his dribble still. It's hard to imagine what he was thinking. He had no passing angle, Maggette wasn't close to open, and he could simply have dribbled over to change the angle. But coach told him to pass the ball, and he was going to pass it, dammit. Very frustrating.
Shaun had 6 turnovers in the game, including the above gem and a potentially devastating charge with less than a minute to go in regulation. Corey had 4 turnovers, 3 on charges. That's 10 turnovers from our 2 backcourt players off the bench. Corey was instrumental in the comeback, and had a solid 21 point, 8 rebound game. But he really should stop running over people. For the game the Clippers committed a usually fatal 23 turnovers. They're not going to win a lot of games where they commit 23 turnovers, I guarantee you.
It's great to be 6-2. And over the course of the 82 game NBA season, you definitely want to win some games where you don't play well. But the Clips are really pushing their luck. They need to come out and play well from start to finish in a game SOON.