Sometimes I just hate being right...
Before the game I said the Clippers would have to limit their turnovers. They committed 19, including 8 in the third quarter when they lost control of the game. I said that Shaun Livingston would have trouble guarding Jameer Nelson. Nelson scored a season-high 29 on 11 for 16 shooting. At halftime, I commented that the lead should have been more than 7. If it had been, the Clippers probably would have won the game.
This game was winnable. Extremely winnable. The Magic are very limited on offense. But the Clippers allowed 18 offensive rebounds, leading to 25 second chance points, and they never solved the couple of matchups (Nelson on Livingston, Turkoglu on Thomas) that the Magic had going for them. MDSr, who usually goes overboard worrying about matchups, seemed oblivious to the fact that Livingston couldn't handle Nelson. He left Shaun out there for the entire third period, as Nelson fricaseed him, and then sat him at the beginning of the fourth, just when Nelson was sitting too. Shaun can guard Arroyo, coach. He can't guard Nelson! Where was Ross? Where was Ewing?
So many unfortunate things happened in the second half. Brand, Kaman and Thomas were a combined 15 for 19 in the first half, yet the Clippers led by only 7. Is it any wonder that they lost the game, when those three combined to hit 4 for 17 in the second? In desperate need of scores in the final minutes, the Clippers carelessly turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, and missed a couple of free throws. In fact, they made only one field goal (a Cat three after the game was essentially out of reach) in the final three minutes of the game. With 1:20 to go, Elton got an offensive rebound 3 feet from the basket and kicked the ball out. Why? He's got to take that ball to the rack. He's supposedly the horse. I was looking for an 'and-one' there. Why wasn't EB thinking the same thing?
I know Elton wasn't getting any calls (I've rarely seen him as mad as when Howard shoved him unpenalized at 2:58), but let's face facts - those refs had their whistles in their pockets. How they don't call a foul on Shaun grabbing Turkoglu on the inbounds pass with 4 seconds left is beyond me.
And let's not blame Corey for missing five free throws. Two misses in the final two minutes hurts, but at least he was getting to the line. Corey took 13 free throws, and the rest of the team combined took 9. He made 8 to 7 for the rest.
After being given a gift from the refs on the Turkoglu non-call, the Clippers ran a nice inbounds play and got Thomas a wide open look at a three to tie the game. He promptly put up an airball. What the hell? Isn't this what we brought him here to do? An airball? At least hit the rim, man.
So the Clippers start this crucial trip with a loss in a game they should have won. The two of you who predicted that they would go 6-0 on this trip in the ClipsNation poll were WRONG.