This one hurt. The Cavaliers were very beatable. But the Clippers were too limited on offense, and too passive rebounding the ball, resulting in a 103-95 loss. The absence of Cat Mobley was definitely felt in this one. Chris Kaman, Corey Maggette and Sam Cassell all had good scoring nights, but no one else bothered to show up.
I don't really have any big, sweeping theme for this recap. The Clippers did not play well as a team, though some individuals did. If you're looking for a scapegoat in the game, look no further than Tim Thomas. When he goes 0 for 4 from three point range it's just brutal, because you know he's not really helping you in other areas. Drew Gooden got any rebound he wanted while Thomas was supposed to be boxing him out, apparently because Thomas can't remember that that's what he's supposed to be doing all the way to the point where someone gets the ball. Speaking of Gooden, what does this guy have to do to get Mike Brown to notice him? He had 18 points and 17 rebounds through three quarters, and was rewarded with zero fourth quarter minutes. Weird. Anyone who has him on their fantasy team is thinking, 'What the hell?'
It's also interesting to note that the Clippers were a combined 31 for 71 on threes in their first 4 ball games, all wins - that averages out to almost 8 makes in almost 18 attempts. In their two losses, the have a total 5 makes in 23 attempts. They have gone stone cold - but they are also attempting 5 fewer per game. Obviously Mobley absence explains some of that.
Here are some things to go back and watch again on the TiVo if you haven't yet deleted it and you are so inclined:
- 0:30 of the 1st - When was the last time Chris Kaman took the ball to the hole and dunked in somebody's face? I'm going to go with never. He got four dunks in the opener against the Warriors, but all of those were on catches or rebounds. I don't think I've ever seen him power his way to the basket and finish like that. Me likey. Kaman continues to play well. We heard that he had worked on his 15 footer in the summer of 06, yet I don't think he made one all last season. Apparently he kept working, because now he's actually making that shot with regularity. And those flips around the basket are going in more often than not right now. 10 for 15 in this game brings him up over 55% for the season.
- 2:11 of the 2nd - Watch Quinton Ross play defense on this play. He moves his feet well and stays in front of LeBron. James backs him down, creates the contact, Ross is vertical and directly in front of him with his hands in the air... and they call the foul on Q. There is nothing else Q could do, nor did he actually commit a foul. It's tough enough to guard that guy as it is without every call going for him as well.
- Opening possession of the 3rd - What is Steve Javie doing? Is he chatting up some woman at courtside? Did he just make a date? Hey, Steve, there's a basketball game going on and YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE REFFING IT!
- 9:26 of the 4th - Paul Davis is called for a three second violation, nullifying a Maggette three. I hate the three second rule, simply because refs call it so haphazardly. I mean, it's a good enough rule, I understand the goal of it and all, but the enforcement is just atrocious. In this case, I immediately yelled, 'Who?' grabbed my TiVo remote and went back and looked again. Sure enough, Davis had only just entered the key - he had been there for less than 2 seconds when the whistle blew. The official (I didn't notice who called it) made an anticipation call, assuming that someone had been in the lane since Brevin Knight passed up an open shot. But it was not even close. It seems to me, with a call like 3 seconds that is at best enforced intermittently, you'd at least want to get the ones you actually call correct. This turned out to be a pretty big play - the Clippers still had a one point lead at the time after having been up by 5 after the first basket of the quarter. The Cavs immediately took the lead, and a few minutes later went on a 10-0 run.
- 3:01 of the 4th - A nice block by Kaman on LeBron. But go back and watch it again. It's a clear travel before the block; he takes 3 steps on his way to the hoop. This is one of at least three walks going to the basket for LBJ in the game, with a fourth egregious one where he catches the ball with both feet in front of the three point line, and takes three steps (he took an extra one for good measure) to get both feet behind the line without using his dribble. Now, the refs let lots of players get away with that sloppy footwork on the catch - that's not news, although this one was particularly bad. But why won't they call a travel on this guy going to the basket? I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but it sure looks like the guy is getting preferential treatment, as if he needs it. Of course then he goes to the World Championships and doesn't understand it when the refs call him for traveling. One other thing on this play - LeBron gives Kaman a high five after the block.
Well, I'd say our expectations for this team have risen a bit for the Generic Clippers. It's not enough to be in a game with the defending Eastern Conference champs. With Kaman playing this well, you really want them to win their home games. The fact remains that the team is undefeated with Mobley in the lineup, so let's hope he's able to play pretty soon. New York is in town Wednesday night. Time to start winning again.