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Clippers 105 - Grizzlies 90

Admit it.  I wasn't the only one watching the first half thinking, "Man, I wish we could trade some of these makes tonight for misses last night - we might have gotten 2 wins."

Of course, you can't actually trade makes for misses, but it'd be nice if you could.  Stupid space-time continuum.

What a difference it makes when the team makes shots.  The truth is, the offense has executed well for two straight games now, which is a first on the season.  In Sacramento, the Clippers got the shots they wanted all game long.  They just missed them.  Tonight, the ball was going in the hole.  And how.

Ross - Tuesday, 1-7; Wednesday, 4-4.
Maggette - Tuesday, 0-9; Wednesday, 4-8.
Brand - Tuesday, 4-15; Wednesday, 5-10.
Williams - Tuesday, 1-4; Wednesday, 2-3.

The cumulative percentage for those 4 guys went from 17% (6-35) to 60% (15-25).  Throw in Singleton's 0-5 in Capitol City (he got a DNP tonight), and Monday's percentage drops to 15%.  60% is better than 15%.  

And I'm leaving out Mobley, who was on fire.  He made his first 9 shots, and made a couple of threes, including a runner at the first half buzzer.  When things are going right, they're going right.  FYI, Cat's made 7 of his last 10 threes, after starting the season 3 for 12.  If he keeps this up, giving the Clips a legitimate deep threat in the backcourt, it could really help open things up.

QRoss's game also should be highlighted.  In addition to scoring 11 points on 4 shots, he had 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals.  He had 8 points and 4 steals in the fourth quarter alone.  And his defense on Mike Miller was just unfair.  Miller, the Grizzlies' leading scorer, wound up with 8 points in the game, and 3 of those were the result of a busted play where Q was on the floor after a loose ball.  (BTW, what is the deal with Miller's Catholic school-girl headband?  If we're going to have rules about headbands in the NBA, shouldn't we start right there?)

My favorite play came in the fourth.  Q switched onto Stro Swift in the post.  Stro thought he'd abuse the little guy, but Ross knocked the ball away, and fought through a straight arm to keep it from going out of bounds.  Sammy dove on the loose ball and called timeout.  Clippers' ball.  Just an outstanding individual defensive play.  

There were a couple of lapses in intensity along the way that allowed the Grizz to cut into the lead.  In particular, a spate of ugly turnovers in the third quarter were disconcerting.  But that's somewhat to be expected - it's hard to maintain the same level of focus when you've got a big lead.  To the team's credit, every time Memcouver made a push, the Clips responded.  I think they converted out of every time out MDSr called.  That's good execution, and a welcome departure from what we've been seeing on the young season.

Any bad news to report?  Well, how about Elton Brand's tired legs?  20 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks is a nice night, to be sure.  20 points on 10 shots is particularly good efficiency.  And 12 trips to the line is great, considering that he was averaging about 3 trips per game in the losing streak.  But there was something strangely missing.  Every time EB went to the line, it was for 2 shots.  He did not have an 'and one' the entire game, although he had MANY opportunites.  He'd get the ball in good position, try to go strong, get bumped and then he just couldn't get the ball to the rim.

So here we are, at 7-7, still in last place in the division, but only 2 games behind the front-running Lakers, who are up next.  Given the new found intensity of the rivalry, if we get a win on Saturday the losing streak will be all but forgotten.  This win does wonders for the team's outlook.  A win over the Lakers would do even more.