Ding-friggin-dong, the friggin witch is friggin dead.
For the first time in almost 4 years, for the first time in MDSr's tenure as coach, for the first time in the Clipper careers of everyone on the team except for Brand and Maggette, the Clippers beat the Sacramento Kings.
In no particular order, here are some observations:
- Some team from the Western Conference is going to be the 8th seed in the playoffs, but it sure doesn't look like it's going to be the Kings. This team is not good right now. I mean, the Clippers aren't particularly good, but the Kings looked just awful. Of course, when your leading scorer shoots 3 for 11 and your third leading scorer shoots 2 for 9, it's hard to look real good. The Clippers should have won this one more easily than they did, but to their credit they kept the lead above 7 for the last 18 minutes.
- Kevin Martin does not want to see the Clippers any more this season. Averaging 21 points per game and shooting over 50% from the field on the season (unheard of for a guard who shoots as many threes as Martin), he has 2 and 14 points in two games against the Clippers, shooting 1 for 8 and 3 for 11.
- Martin is a terrific actor. 17th in the NBA in free throws made, he does a great job of getting to line. But the calls he got in the first half of this game were dubious, and I doubt he would have gotten them without the arms flailing, pained screaming bit. HOWEVER, the act seemed to wear thin on the officials, as they ignored it on several second half plays. (Quite frankly, I thought he was fouled harder on the second half non-calls than he was on the first half calls he got.) It raises an interesting point - NBA referees must watch NBA games right? I mean, as part of their job description, and as fans as well no doubt. So don't they see what I see? If I think Martin is acting, don't they think the same thing? I would be hesitant to give the guy a call if I was the ref.
- Speaking of the officials, this was not a great night for them, in my opinion. In addition to the above shenanigans with Kevin Martin, there were some astoundingly late whistles. On one play in the first half, Steve Javie called a foul on Kaman not during Shareef's shot, not while it was in the air, not after Tim Thomas grabbed the airball, but as he was making an outlet pass. Then, at the end of the half, Kaman tried to steal an inbound pass, and the whistle blew not during the contact, but after Bibby stumbled around for awhile. I'm not even saying they weren't fouls - they certainly were legitimate calls. But blow the effing whistle when it happens; don't wait around to see what happens and then swoop in to right the inequities after the fact like some sort of masked avenger. Also, the technical on Bibby was unfortunate - Shaun clearly grabbed his ankle and tripped him, which is a shitty thing to do. But Bibby's got to be a little smarter than that - if the ref didn't see it, he didn't see it. Oh yeah, and there was an official named Zach Zarba. Am I supposed to take this guy seriously?
- Don't look now, but here comes Chris Kaman. Despite foul trouble, he finished this game with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, shooting 6 for 9 from the field. Close to 50% for his career prior to this season, and a 52% shooter last year, Chris has been shooting an abysmal 42.6% so far in 2006. But he's 25-47 (53%) in his last 5 games and close to 50% for his last 10. My only fear is that he's finally gotten used to the new ball, with one more game before they switch back.
- Elton Brand was shooting the 18 footer like he did last season. He wanted it, and he made it. It was nice to see.
- James Singleton provided a nice lift during his 12 minutes. He made a tremendous block immediately upon entering the game, rebounded well while he was out there, and played great defense.
- And what is the deal with those gold Kings unis? I mean, seriously, asymmetrical? Isn't that kind of an 80's thing?
- Finally, let's talk a little about Ron Artest and Corey Maggette. Do you think it's possible that MDSr had his eyes open enough to notice that Maggette is the player they actually need? When Corey came into the game late in the first quarter, the Clippers were behind by 5. All he did was score 6 straight, and the Clippers took the lead at the end of the quarter. Meanwhile, Artest looked every bit the ticking timebomb for the Kings. Lethargic, sullen, disinterested and more than a little frightening, he appears to be the LAST guy you want on your team. I'm torn on this trade... if MDSr is bound and determined to deal Maggette, I doubt the Clippers are going to get a better offer. But I really don't want that guy around. And if the coach would simply wake up and realize that so many things would get better around here if Corey got more minutes, then we wouldn't need to make a trade at all.
So, two straight solid wins and three out of four after the 6 game skid. With the pathetic Knicks in town Sunday, we can take a little momentum onto the road in the new year.