There's not much point in breaking this game down. Utah is better than the Clippers right now. A lot better.
Nonetheless, here are some random thoughts.
- Earlier today I said "If Carlos Boozer outplays EB, I may weep." Well, break out the effing tissues. Boozer - 28 points, 15 rebounds, 0 turnovers. Brand - 20 points, 4 rebounds, 6 turnovers. He didn't just outplay him. He destroyed him. It looked more like Duke versus Duquesne than Duke versus Duke.
- Brand and Kaman could learn a lot from Boozer. When he gets the ball in scoring position, he goes quickly and strongly to the basket. Both Brand and Kaman have a habit of pump faking a dozen or so times. Screw that. Get the ball, go to the hole.
- The Clippers played a solid first quarter and led 28-21 after one. The lead had a lot to do with cold Utah shooting to start the game, but still, as many times as the Clippers have started poorly this year, it was good to see them come out strong. It was all down hill from there.
- Elton was limited to 9 first half minutes because of foul trouble. Already without Maggette and Cassell, the Clippers just weren't really deep enough to play without Brand. Brand picked up his third foul and sat down with 6 and a half minutes left in the first half and the Clippers up 3. The Clippers lineup for most of the rest of the quarter was Kaman, Davis, Thomas, Singleton and Livingston. Here's hoping we don't see that mess again this season. They were down 5 at halftime.
- The Clippers actually led most of the first half. In fact, the biggest Clipper deficit was one point going into the half's final minute. They promptly gave up a layup, a ridiculous Kaman turnover and an open Okur three as Kaman grabbed a quick nap to close the quarter. 5 point half time deficit, just like that.
- Somehow, the Clippers made enough shots to actually take the lead briefly in the third. After two straight Livingston dunks, the Clippers had a 56-55 lead with 8 minutes to go in the quarter. They were immediately outscored 14-4 over the next 4:30, with 13 of the 14 points coming from Boozer and Deron Williams, and zero Clipper field goals during that stretch. If you do the math, the Clippers were outscored by 20 points, 50-30, over the final 20 minutes of game time. As Ralph might say, "yikers."
- Tim Thomas is a nightmare of a basketball player. Purists in ClipperNation complain about Corey's fundamentals, but Thomas is infinitely worse. He doesn't box out. He has very little court sense. He invariably seems to have the ball in his hands with a short shot clock, yet he's blissfully unaware. On a jumpball during that crucial 14-4 3rd quarter Jazz run, he just let AK47 go right to where Elton was tipping the ball, without even thinking about keeping him from doing that.
- Those little mistakes are so huge. Thomas not securing that jumpball (not even trying, really). Shaun Livingston double dribbling for no apparent reason down 12 in the 4th, when there still might have been hope. Letting a rebound fall out of bounds, when it could have been saved because Shaun THOUGHT the ball was off Utah. Then allowing a flat out layup on the ensuing inbound play. Numerous missed box outs. The list goes on and on.
- The team is just not playing with any passion. It shows up in myriad ways, but think about this: who got the loose balls in this game? In the San Antonio games?
- Kaman's numbers were OK (19 and 10), but his game was not. He had 5 turnovers, many of the 'What was he thinking?' variety. His defense on Okur was head-scratchingly weak. He would simply leave Okur at the three point line, for no reason. It's one thing to get beat by a three point shooting center when you're switching a pick and roll or something. But don't just wander away. You know he can shoot from there. It's in the scouting report.
- Deron Williams torched Shaun Livingston for 28 points. Now, much of this was not Shaun's fault, as the help defense was as bad as it's been in 2 seasons, to the point of non-existent. (How can a team desperately in need of defensive stops in the fourth quarter give up uncontested layups time and time again?) But where was QRoss? Already shorthanded, for some reason MDSr played Q only 9 minutes, the fewest this season. Was he sick? What happened?
- Finally, a conspiracy theorist might find it suspicious that neither Cassell nor Maggette played in this game. These are the two main Clippers involved in a rumored trade for Allen Iverson. And by the way, the Clippers next game is this Friday, 12/15, the same day that the trade resriction on Cassell expires. I will be shocked if an Iverson deal is not completed some time Saturday. I'm not saying it's Iverson to the Clippers. But a deal will be done on Friday, when the 2006 free agent restrictions expire.