There were several interesting developments in Friday night's game.
Kevin at ClipperBlog pointed out that Tim Thomas, though he did NOT do the thing he was brought here to do (0-4 on 3Pointers), had his best rebounding game in years, and he also had two huge blocked shots. All in all, he played a solid game on defense and rebounding, despite a poor shooting night. Go figure.
Shaun Livingston had his first good game of the young season (he had one good quarter in Phoenix, but one good quarter out of eight is not really the average we're looking for): 14 points and 9 assists in 29 minutes, not to mention superb defense that included a block of a Barbosa three, followed by a run out layup on the other end that extended the Clippers lead in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers depth really came to the fore in this game. Six players scored in double figures, while Maggette was clearly the POG off the bench. The aforementioned Thomas played a terrific game, and QRoss's defense in the final 2 minutes was crucial in preserving the win. (When the Clippers have neither Ross nor Livingston on the floor, as was the case for a couple minutes of the fourth, Nash has his way with Mobley - it's a very tough assignment for Cat, and impossible for Sam.)
In other words, the top 8 Clippers all made major contributions to this win, which is a very good sign.
The most surprising development was the team's play with Elton Brand on the bench. If you'll recall, in the playoff series, Elton basically couldn't sit. He averaged 45 minutes per, and the Clippers lost game one when Dunleavy rested him for a minute in the fourth quarter. But Friday night, with Elton on the bench for 5 minutes at the beginning of the second quarter, the Clippers turned a 6 point deficit into a 1 point lead. With Brand on the bench the first 6 minutes of the fourth, they went from 2 down to 5 up. In other words, the team was +7 in two separate stretches with Brand on the bench.
So, while it's not great news that Elton's +/- was like -24 for the game, it's very good news that the Clippers managed to do well without him. As for why Elton was so ineffective, I think it's circumstantial. Corey was the difference in the game, and he was always on the floor when Elton was resting.