Well, I'm back from a Christmas trip to the snow, and six full days without the Clippers. If I seemed a little distant and detached in my posting since last Friday, it's because everything was written in advance. So that's why I've been silent on the Artest thing. Oh, and now I know that I am the only one who thinks that Q looks exactly like the Crab Man.
My in-laws' cabin has cable TV, but I was rarely in charge of the remote. In fact, the adults watched almost no TV all week, which is as it should be. We talked, we ate, we played cards... it was nice. And the facial tic that I developed during the Iverson trade talk has begun to subside.
So, now I'm going to try to catch up on six days worth of posts in one hour:
- In a bizarre quirk, the Clippers record in the second game of back-to-backs this season is an astounding 6-2, including 5 straight wins. Of course, it's not that astounding until you consider that they are 12-16 overall, leaving them 6-14 when playing after one or more days off, and the 5 straight have come in a time when they couldn't buy other wins. They've snapped a 5 game losing streak, a 6 game losing streak, a 7 game road losing streak, and a 4 game home losing streak, all with wins in the second of back-to-backs. There's no logical explanation for this, though it is a tad frightening to consider the possibility that MDSr has actually HURT their chances of winning when they've had time to prepare for an opponent. I don't actually believe that - I've always thought that MDSr's diligence in preparing opponent specific game plans has been a strength. But the evidence so far suggests they're better off just showing up at the arena and balling.
- The Clippers won 2 and lost 1 in the games I missed, which is certainly better than the 6 straight losses prior, but forgive me if I'm not impressed. I declined to TiVo those games, figuring that the perspective I've gained while away for 6 days could be swallowed whole by a 6 hour basketball bacchanalia immediately upon my return. But looking at the box scores, I can't really declare that their troubles are behind the team. Reading Jason Reid's coverage of the Houston win in the LA Times versus Kevin's post at ClipperBlog you'd think they'd watched two different games. But allowing the Rockets sans TMac et Yao to make 11 of 21 threes seems like a huge problem. Sure the Rockets shot only 40% overall, but Juwan and Bonzi combined for 3 for 16, so we weren't really stopping the other guys. Like I said, I didn't see the game, and a road win is a road win, but I'm with Kevin - if the Clippers have to shoot 7 for 13 on their threes to win a game, I don't like the odds. As for a win against a Pierce-less Celtics team that would have a really good chance to win the ACC this year (5 starters - average age 22, average NBA experience 2nd season, 3 of them still supposed to be in college) - I'm glad the team took care of business, but c'mon.
- During six days in Tahoe, I watched 3 minutes of Clippers' basketball. During Tuesday's NBA show on ESPN, they provided a 'live look-in' to the Jazz game. It was depressing. Down only 4 when ESPN joined Ralph and Mike early in the third, I watched Giricek make a three, and then Deron Williams torched Livingston for layups the next two possessions, and the lead was 12 by the time they went back to the studio. For a team that is having a horrible time on the defensive end, particularly against the three and dribble penetration, it was not the 200 seconds of basketball I wanted to see. It is at the same time encouraging and disturbing that the Clippers were within 3 points with less than 3 minutes left (the Jazz were 2 for 11 on threes to that point), only to allow Utah to score 15 points on their final 6 possessions including 3 threes. Good offense or bad defense? Most likely a combination of both. But you can NOT win close games without getting stops in the 4th quarter.
- There's an interesting phenomenon going on here with Tim Thomas. He's been the Clippers' leading scorer in their last two wins, and has played 42 and 36 minutes in those games (his two highest minutes played as a Clipper). So, it would seem that the more MDSr sees Thomas, the more he likes him. Anyone else agree with that assessment? (crickets) Look, I didn't see the games. But if the Clippers season is dependent on this guy, I'm just going to switch back to the Suns. He's shooting 38.5% from the field. And, yeah, I know, he takes a lot of threes which drives his overall percentage down. So here's what he's shooting on his twos: 52 for 126, 41.3%. The Clippers are 5-0 in games where he makes 3 or more 3's and shoots over 40% from out there. Trouble is, that's happened five times in 28 games, and by the way, three of those games were laughers. For me, the most irksome thing is the fact that MDSr prefers him so strongly to Corey. When the coach was starting Q on the basis of defense over offense, I wasn't happy, but I understood and respected the decision. So now that Thomas is the starting 3, we see that it was all bullshit, and MDSr just doesn't like Maggette. You don't like Corey's poor defensive rotations, ill-advised shots and overall low basketball IQ? Fine. But how the hell does Tim Thomas fix ANY of those problems?
- And speaking of Maggette, in the words of Jack Skellington, may as well give them what they want. I haven't heard squat from the inside on the Artest for Maggette rumors. I do know that the Clippers are vigorously shopping Corey, and they have no better offers. I'm actually glad that I'm coming into the situation late, because the Iverson roller coaster was more than a little stressful, and it seems like this one was similar, with Jason Reid pronouncing a deal imminent on Wednesday, but essentially nothing since. All I can do is offer my opinion at this point. If, as has been reported, the Kings first contacted the Clippers about their interest in Artest for Maggette, then the question is, 'What's the hold up?' Because, given their current situation, you know the Clippers' response was 'Yes, please, now.' It's obviously more than a little telling that Artest has already worn out his welcome in Capitol City despite being on his best behavior. (The absence of on court fights, arrests and/or trade demands, while not unusual for other players, represents Artest's best.) But with the Clippers (really MDSr) so clearly having given up on Maggette, there's no way they're going to get anyone as talented as Artest in return, and it's equally obvious that at 12-16, the Clippers need to take a chance if they expect to get anywhere this season. Maggette certainly doesn't figure into the Clippers long term plans, Artest's contract is nearly identical, and if Maggette ends up being worth no more than a decent first round pick in trade, surely Artest would be worth that as well. So, there does not appear to be a lot of downside. But it would seem that the Kings have gotten cold feet. The latest pronouncements from Geoff Petrie certainly don't make a deal seem imminent, or even likely. And if they really were willing to do Artest for Maggette straight up, it would be done. Have they simply changed their minds? Or do they want something else in the deal? What else would they want? Would the Clippers thrown in the Minnesota first rounder to get it done? Would you? Head over to SacTown Royalty for more details on the rumors. That's what I did.
So, bring on the tonight's game. A win over the Kings after 15 straight losses would actually make me smile. On the other hand, a 16th loss might cause that facial tic to re-appear.