Wow was that an ugly game. Although the Clippers had more points at the end, 84 to 81, no one deserved to win that one. In fact, I'm going to just make an executive decision as one of the leading Clipper bloggers in all the world, that neither team gets this win. They both lose. And you know who else loses? Us, the basketball watching public, that's who.
Even when the Clippers were outscoring the Knicks 20-3 during that third quarter run, they still didn't look good. The Knicks were just so very much worse. Likewise in the fourth as the Knicks were on a 20-4 run of their own, it was primarily about Clipper ineptitude and had nothing to do with great basketball on the New York side.
But truth be told, this is going to be a part of life for the generic Clippers. And any win they get without Elton Brand is 5% of the total wins John Hollinger predicted for them this season.
No one for the Clippers really had a good game. Kaman rebounded well, but if he hadn't gotten those 18 boards they would have all gone to the Knicks, because no one else on the Clippers seemed to care a bit about the glass. Overall, LA was outrebounded 59-46, and they shot 36.5%. No one on the team scored more than Kaman's 14, and he took 17 shots to get there. You could say that having five players between 10 and 14 is great balance, or you could call it what it is - a suckfest. Outrebounded by 13, 36.5% from the field, leading scorer with 14 and outshot at the line 33-21. I guess if you get a win with a performance like that you just say 'Thank you' and get ready for your next game.
Cat Mobley was the only one of five double figure scorers who averaged more than 1 point per shot (Maggette 13 points on 13 shots, Thomas 12 on 13, Cassell 13 on 16, Mobley 10 on 9). And he was basically playing on one leg. I was shocked that Dunleavy left him out there down the stretch, but thank goodness he did.
Kaman's 6 for 17 felt a lot like last season's player, a guy I'll call Mr. Flippy. He did dunk one ball, but he also missed a bunch of bunnies right at the cup where he could have dunked the ball if he'd decided to. To his credit, he did close the game 5 for 10 after Mr. Flippy started by missing 6 of his first 7.
Certainly no one played well, but Maggette was particularly bad. He just didn't seem to be all there. He missed one uncontested layup. He threw the ball away numerous times. His jump shot was off, but he kept on shooting it. And the fact that he didn't hustle and grab that ball before it went out of bounds with 11 seconds to play in the game had me screaming at the TV. When the ball went bouncing toward the sideline, I had this one in the win column already. Instead, we had to prolong it. Thankfully Isiah didn't even design a play to try to tie the game.
Do I have anything good to say? Well, I guess Tim Thomas' bucket with 90 seconds left was big. Compared to the 6 minutes directly preceding, it was positively Jordanesque. But the ensuing Knicks possession, when the Clippers needed a big stop, they got it - because Fred Jones dropped a pass out of bounds. Even when they needed a big play, it was really the Knicks lack of execution as opposed to anything positive performed by the Clipper defense that made the difference. After another stop, with no point guard on the floor, Cat Mobley brought the ball up, backed down Marbury, and calmly banked in a shot for the four point lead. Here again, that was more about really bad defense than great offense. You're going to flop with under a minute to play, Steph? REALLY? Not sure that's what Isiah had in mind when he said he wanted better defense from the point guard position.
Speaking of that situation, Isiah makes this big deal out of benching the guy, he actually leaves the team before a game, and then when he returns... he plays 34 minutes!? He was only averaging 37 before all of this. That's the big punishment? Three fewer minutes? If you'd just told Steph that upfront you could have saved everyone a lot of trouble.
I said in the Game Preview that this was a trap game. With Randolph, Richardson and Marbury all questionable, the real question was what would happen if those guys played? And how would the Clippers come out regardless of who showed up for the Knicks? Well they all played (though not well), and indeed the Clippers showed up flat.
Strategically, there was one interesting development in this game. Twice MDsr played Al Thornton with the starters, in two different positions. Once at the power forward for Tim Thomas, and once at the shooting guard for QRoss (arguably Maggette was the guard at that time and Thornton was the forward). I thought Al looked pretty good out there with the big boys. Certainly his athleticism is electric. I'd like to see a lot more of Al, and it seems as if MDsr is determined to make that happen.
There's one play in this game that sums it up. Remember last season when Lamar Odom just dribbled onto the court on an inbound play against the Hornets? Well, with 18 seconds left in the half, Jamal Crawford took an inbound handoff from Zach Randolph - only problem being you're not allowed to do that. I was going to say that I've never seen that before, but it's not true. In fact, I saw it just the other day - in ClipperMax's game at the 'Y'. Of course, those guys are 11.
This is NOT a game I'm going to be watching again on the TiVo. Not any part of it. It was just way too ugly.
Still, a win is in fact a win, no matter how ugly. And the generic Clippers move to 5-2. Hopefully Mobley will be closer to 100% on Friday and the team will play well in Oakland.