I'm not going to dwell on this game, a 103-79 debacle against the Pistons. Hopefully the Clippers won't either. In fact, if they come home and beat Cleveland on Sunday, the team will be 5-1 and the one loss will be a distant memory. If on the other hand this begins a losing streak...
The Pistons, for whatever reason, have the Clippers number. I mean, I know they're good, and in fact better than the Clippers. The five or so years that the current Detroit win streak covers, this Pistons team has been among the best in the NBA. And in 05-06, when the Clippers were actually close to as good, happened to be the season that the Pistons were at their regular season best.
But even so, lesser teams beat better teams all the time, and certainly they can stay in games. But that just hasn't been the case for the Clippers against the Pistons lately. I will say this: disciplined, balanced teams that execute their offense and take what the defense gives them are much tougher on the Clippers than teams that run a lot of isolation or just run up and down the floor. The Spurs, the Pistons, the Jazz - these are the teams the Clippers have the most trouble with (the late season drubbing of Utah last year being a very strange anomaly). I'm not sure why this should be necessarily. Any ideas out there?
After my last meeting was over on Friday, I stopped by a sports book in Vegas to watch some of the game. When I walked in, the score was 25-20 Detroit. When I left, it was 41-21 - with the one point being a technical free throw after a defensive three second call. While I was watching, the Clippers made zero field goals and collected one rebound - after a missed free throw. Most of the damage was done against the clearly outmanned second unit. While Maggette and Kaman were out of the game for the first three minutes of the second quarter, the score was 10-0 and the team collected nothing but negative stats - turnovers, misses, fouls.
Not that the first unit fared much better. Outside of Kaman and Maggette, no one played well. My pessimism post proved to be disturbingly prescient. The team looked completely undermanned against a quality opponent, and specifically the three point shooting deserted them (credit the defense to a large extent), leaving Kaman making moves in the post and Maggette drawing fouls as the entire extent of the offense. Twelve assists total for the team (they were averaging almost twice that going into the game at 23.5) is just ugly. Twelve assists, outrebounded by 20, 35% shooting. It's amazing they only lost by 24 (preserving a +3.4 differential on the season, yea!)
The only good news is that Kaman continues to play well, although seven rebounds and five turnovers were both a little disappointing.
It's over, and a 24 point loss counts the same as a 1 point loss in the standings. After five games the team is 4-1, which is great. The team wasn't going to go 82-0 after all. Like I said before, win Sunday to go 5-1 and this loss will be long forgotten.