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Suns 112 - Clippers 104

Well, that was less fun than I'd hoped it would be.  

You know, it's only one game, and the odds are you're not going to beat the Suns in Phoenix.  But that was a winnable game.  Of course, you have to make some shots.  The Clippers ended the game at 42.7%, but they had to make a few in the 4th to get that high.  They spent most of the game below 40%.  

Here are some quick thoughts:

  • I was really surprised at Dunleavy's short bench.  Corey gave it a go, but when he couldn't play, the Clippers went with 7 guys.  It was like a rotation you use in the playoffs - in the first game of the season.  I guess he really wanted to win this one.
  • The Clippers offense was stagnant.  Sure, they missed makeable shots, and they would have looked better if a few more of those had gone in.  But they did a lot of standing around and played a lot of one-on-one.  Other than a couple of Cassell-Brand Pick and Pop's in the 4th, there was nothing remotely fluid.
  • The Suns (OK, mostly Shawn Marion) were quicker to the ball.  I can remember several loose balls that Clipper players were closer to, that ended up going to the Suns.  There's really no excuse for that.  You have to want it.
  • The Clippers spent way too much time getting into their sets.  Dunleavy calls an iso from the bench, and then they'll spend up to 15 seconds just trying to get the ball to the right guy in the right spot, to start the play.  There needs to be more flexibility.  By the time he's got the ball, he's up against a very short clock.
  • Brand got 22 shots, but he did not get nearly enough.  Bear in mind, he also got 8 offensive rebounds, and most of those resulted in shots.  So figure he generated 7 shots from the 8 O-boards.  That's 15 shots in the offense.  Mobley and Cassell had 14 and Livingston had 13.  Brand needed more.  Kurt Thomas fouled out in 12 minutes played, Marion ended the game with 5 fouls and Stoudemire is the only other guy who's an option on Brand.  I'm not clear why the Clippers didn't go to that match up every time down the floor.
  • The supposed crackdown on traveling yielded mixed results.  They definitely called a few they would not have called last season.  But, is it my imagination, or does Diaw travel every time he touches the ball?  He does a quick two step before he puts the ball down.  Every time.  The refs did not call it, despite the crackdown.
  • Marcus Banks doesn't seem like a significant upgrade over Eddie House to me.  Sure, Banks is a better all around player, but House was a better shooter.  Call it a wash.
  • Sam Cassell can still play.  He appears to be the exact same guy.  17 points in 22 minutes, and the Clippers showed a little offensive life when he was in.
  • Shaun Livingston's coming out party will have to wait at least until tomorrow.  He was 4 for 13, and 2 of those were 3's (which is never going to be his forte) and he also made a jumper at the 3rd quarter buzzer.  Take away those 3 unlikely makes, and he was 1 for 10.
  • Linus (Dunleavy) played Blanket (Mobley) 44 minutes.  Obviously that was partly because of Maggette's illness, but I really worry that the coach is going to wear Cat out.  This is a deep team, even if Maggette's sick.  There's no reason Cat Mobley needs to lead the league in minutes played.
  • Raja Bell was invisible.  The box score says he played 35 minutes.  I don't believe it.
  • For the second straight game, D'Antoni used Stoudemire significantly less in the second half.  They must be evaluating at half time and deciding to dial it back some.  He certainly played well enough in the first half against the Clippers (13 points in 15 minutes) to justify big minutes in the second half.

It's one game.  No big deal.  But, the Suns are a long way from hitting on all cylinders, and they were playing the second of back-to-back games.  This game was a gift from the NBA schedulers, and the Clippers didn't take advantage.  An opportunity lost.