In the first 6 minutes of the Clippers 115-101 victory over the Sonics on Sunday afternoon, Chris Kaman had 4 points on 2 for 2 shooting, 5 rebounds, and a pretty assist for a Quinton Ross and-one. In three touches on the offensive end he accounted for 7 points, and he had collected most of the available rebounds. He handled the double team, he protected the ball. It was a good start.
Although he went cold and missed 5 of his next 7 shots, he ended the game with three statistics that no doubt pleased the Clippers coaching staff greatly - 15 rebounds, 3 blocked shots and 0 turnovers. As for his offense, with Corey Maggette (27), Tim Thomas (20) and Cat Mobley (17) carrying the load and six Clippers in double figures for the second time in two games, 10 points was just fine.
Kaman's going to face stiffer competition than Andris Biedrins and Nick Collison this season, just as the Clippers are going to have to play better teams than the Warriors and Sonics - and soon. But as long as the league gives you the gift of a soft opening schedule, you have to take advantage of it and build a little momentum. I mean, it's not surprising that Portland is 0-3 with road losses in San Antonio, New Orleans and Houston, nor is it surprising that the Clippers are 2-0 with two home wins. But I'd rather be 2-0 than 0-3, and if everyone is predicting a horrible season for you, starting 2-0 is especially satisfying.
Less than a week into the season, you get some really funny statistics. Like for instance, the Los Angeles Clippers leading the NBA in points per game with over 117 (it helps to face the two worst defenses). Or Chris Kaman second in the NBA in rebounding behind Marcus Camby. Here's the thing - by the end of the season, the Clippers will be in the middle of the pack in scoring. But Kaman has a real chance to be a top five rebounder.
Before I get back to this game, I want to put a really big asterisk on the 2-0 start. The Clippers have played two games against two REALLY BAD DEFENSIVE TEAMS. The fact that the Clippers offense has looked good probably has a lot more to do with the opposition than anything else. So let's try not to get too excited just yet.
But the offense has looked good. In fact, for much of this game they were getting wide open looks; just not making them. Consequently, it was still a 2 point game entering the 4th quarter - the Clippers were shooting just over 40% at that point despite the good looks. Suddenly the wide open shots started falling. LA made 14 of 23 shots in the final period, including 5 three pointers, and blew the Sonics out of Staples Center.
- A nice line for Maggette. 27 points on 13 shots, 13 for 14 from the line, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
- The Clippers were exactly 7 for 18 on three point field goals for the second time. With makes from Cassell, Dickau, Thomas and Mobley today, they have now gotten threes from six different players. Thornton is also willing and able to take the three, which gives them 7 deep threats. I'm still getting used to this idea after three seasons at the bottom of the league in three point shooting, but ... ME LIKEY!
- Cat Mobley is officially the Houston scoring Cat. I'm not sure why. He says he feels better than he has in a long time after off-season elbow surgery. Or maybe it's just the fact that he's in scoring mode for the Generic Clippers (No Brand). But he's so much more aggressive. He wants the ball. He wants it bad.
- Sam Cassell got on the floor for loose balls not once but twice in this game and got both of them for his team. I think he wants to win.
- The training camp signing of Dan Dickau has already paid dividends. Brevin Knight caught an inadvertent elbow from Cat in the third quarter just after replacing Cassell. Rather than being forced to come back with the almost 38 year old Cassell, or insert a rookie into the game, MDsr went to the 5 year vet and the Clippers kept rolling. Dickau was on the floor as the Clippers stretched their lead fro 2 to 11.
- According to the box score Ruben Patterson had six steals. I was surprised at that number, but he was certainly active. Six steals in 20 minutes. Wow.
- The Clippers had only 12 turnovers for the game, and frankly, at least two of those were bad calls.
- Kevin Durant is pretty good. Turns out, Jeff Green is too.
The Clippers now go on the road for three games against Eastern Conference teams and we'll find out more. Kaman will have to face Ben Wallace. The Clippers will have to face a team that plays defense. And they'll have to do it away from the enthusiastic fans in Staples. But for now, 2-0 is a pretty good feeling.