For the second night in a row, the Clippers lost to a team that seemingly couldn't win. After becoming the Warriors' first victim of the season, they gave the Bulls' their first road win. Those two teams have tripled their win total in two days courtesy of the LAC.
LA played this game without Corey Maggette who strained his hamstring against the Warriors. We've discussed before that the Generic Clippers have essentially no margin for error. With no Brand and no Livingston, they just can't afford for Maggette, Mobley or Kaman to be out. Frankly, they can ill afford for any of those three to even have an off game. (I'm not including Cassell in the list simply because their is a competent replacement at the 1, something that is less true at the 2,3 and 5.) It's just not a surprise that the team is 0-2 in the games Mobley missed, 0-1 without Maggette. The bigger surprise is probably that they actually did manage a win (a road win no less) in the game where Mobley was injured and played only 5 minutes.
At any rate, we saw tonight just how limited this team is offensively. Without Maggette, they are reduced to Kaman posting up, Mobley posting up, or Cassell going one-on-one. And neither Kaman nor Mobley are particularly good a setting up their teammates (something at which Maggette has become adequate of late). The result? A season low 73 points, 39% shooting and about a zillion forced jumpers late in the shot clock.
Whether the Warriors and Bulls are in the process of turning their seasons around, and the Clippers just suffered from bad timing, or these teams are just as bad as they've been all season, but the Clippers made them LOOK like contenders, remains to be see. I will say that Ben Wallace came into the game average fewer than six rebounds a game, but pulled down 13 in this game. It also happens to be true that Andres Nocioni (and Matt Barnes for that matter) was only recently inserted into the starting lineup, and he definitely paid dividends in this game. Hell, he was worth about nine points (a five point possession and a four point possession) in the exchange of flagrant fouls alone.
The good news (I found something) is that Chris Kaman's face up mid range jumper appears to be for real. He was having a horrible time around the basket against Ben Wallace early - Wallace quick hands and solid footwork were really disrupting what Chris wanted to do. So he just took Wallace out away from the basket and used his height advantage to shoot over him. After making about three jumpers, he was able to go back inside where he found a little more success. Kaman finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds, his fifth game of 20 or more in 9 games this season. Did I mention that his season high last year was 20?
The bad news - strike that, there's lots of bad news - the worst news is that the next five games are against teams among the best teams in the west. If they're 0-2 against the one-win Warriors and Bulls, what's going to happen against the likes of Denver, Phoenix, New Orleans and Houston?
The team has three full days off before facing the Nuggets Wednesday. Let's hope at least that Maggette's hamstring is feeling better by then.