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Nuggets 103 - Clippers 88


Mired in yet another horrible start that saw them open the game 2-11, and where it took almost 6 minutes before they made a basket without the aid of an offensive rebound, the Clippers were somehow only behind 18-13 with 3:45 to go in the first quarter.  Moments later, Tim Thomas turned his head, and no one told him that Andre Miller was coming up from behind.  Steal, dunk.  With 30 seconds to go in the quarter, and still within 7 points, Elton Brand failed to block out on Reggie Evans, who tipped in the Earl Boykins miss.  As it happens, those two plays were Evans' only two baskets in the game.  The quarter ended with an 11 point Nuggets lead.

If you're going to miss a lot of shots, then you'd better do the little things well.  If you miss shots AND get out-hustled and out-played, well, then you're going to lose...  badly.

Despite a James Singleton inspired mini-run in the second quarter that brought the game to within 3 at halftime, the Clippers never played well enough to win this game.  Perhaps most discouraging of all, Elton Brand, who had looked much more aggressive offensively on Saturday, once again looked tentative on Sunday.  Meanwhile, Shaun Livingston was given the chance to lead the team without the spectre of Sam Cassell looming over him (Sam tweaked his ankle and left the game), and responded with a decidedly uninspiring 2 for 8 performance.  MDSr pulled his once and future point guard at the end of the third quarter after a half-hearted drive to the basket followed by a silly foul on Marcus Camby on what should have been the last possession of the quarter.

Did anyone other than Singleton play well?  No.  Corey Maggette scored 22 and grabbed 12 rebounds.  But he shot only 6 for 17, and committed 5 turnovers.  And was I the only one who thought it seemed like more than 5 turnovers?  Well, that's because it was.  The worst of the bunch, a careless pass with 30 seconds left in the third that Carmelo easily stole for a dunk, was mistakenly given to James Singleton.  Combined with Livingston's end of third gaffe, the Clippers allowed the Nuggets to score the last 5 points of the quarter, all on mis-cues.  It may not seem like much, but if you reverse it, and the Clippers close the quarter strong, the lead is single digits going into the fourth, and maybe you can make a push.  Instead, the lead stretched to 17.

36% shooting and 19 turnovers is a bad game.  A bad game from a bad team.  As of today, a last place team.