Was it just me, or did the rest of you think the Clippers were going to lose this game late in the fourth? When Kidd sank two free throws with 3:26 on the clock, the Clippers lead was cut to 5 points. At the time, the Nets were 1 for 15 in the fourth quarter, and 22 for 71 in the game. If you hold a team to 22 for 71, you really need to have more than a 5 point lead, you know what I'm saying? I guess I've been a Clipper fan too long. I was pretty sure that Nachbar was gonna make a couple unlikely threes in the last 3 minutes and the Clippers would lose.
But they didn't lose. And there is much to be pleased about in this game - and much to be concerned about as well.
- I'm pleased that Tim Thomas shot 6 for 7 on 2 point field goals - and concerned that he shot 1 for 8 on three pointers.
- I'm pleased that Thomas scored 18 points - but concerned that his counterpart Malik Allen scored a season-high 14 - in the first half. (First Chris Quinn and now Malik Allen - scrubs throughout the NBA have career games against the Clippers.)
- I'm pleased that Chris Kaman shot 8 for 14 - but concerned that 4 of his 6 misses were absolute bunnies. Seriously, the guy should have been 12 for 14 in this game. And many of the makes were SO MUCH MORE difficult than the shots he missed.
- I'm pleased that Corey Maggette got a double-double - but concerned that he shot 1 for 6. This was a tough game for Corey. 1 for 6 and 5 turnovers is pretty much a nightmare. But he played good defense, he rebounded well, and he made his free throws at the end when the Nets were nice enough to pad his scoring by fouling him.
- I'm pleased that Ruben Patterson converted a couple of his post up moves - but concerned he's going to keep trying it. Here's the thing - Ruben has bad hands. Quick, active... and made of stone. Watching him try to corral a loose ball is like watching an offensive tackle try to recover a fumble. Ironically, he creates a lot of those loose balls with deflections, but it doesn't do much good if you can't get control of the ball.
- I'm pleased that QRoss made 3 of his 4 shots (he had a 4th bucket waved off on a questionable traveling call) - but concerned about the back injury that forced him to leave the game.
But enough negativity (or maybe it was ambiguity). A win is a win, and a road win is always good. And neither Charlotte nor Memphis has as much talent as New Jersey (although one suspects they'll try a little harder).
There were also some unqualified positives from this game.
- Dan Dickau made his shots, and somehow managed not to be destroyed by Jason Kidd on the other end. With things going well under Dickau, MDsr went with him the entire fourth quarter (or until garbage time) and Dan responded with 9 of his 11 points, a back tap that led to an offensive rebound, and a crucial steal. Dickau's three at the 8 minute mark was huge, and his bucket after the Nets had cut the lead back to 5 was even bigger. He was brought in to be the yin to Brevin Knight's yang behind Cassell at the point, but his sore elbow has seemed to nullify his shooting. But tonight the plan worked to perfection.
- Al Thornton had probably the best highlight reel dunk by a Clipper since Keyon Dooling flushed in Dikembe Mutumbo's grill (I looked for that one on YouTube the other day, but it's not there - anyone remember that one?) It's no wonder ClipsNation is so excited about this guy - on a missed Tim Thomas three, Thornton started at the arc himself, swooped in over everyone, gathered the rebound with his left hand and slammed it with his right. It elicited a very loud 'Whoa!' that sent my cat scurrying from the room. More than just the dunk though, Thornton is looking really good. 8 points and 6 rebounds in 15 minutes is solid work, and he's one of the few Clippers out there currently who makes it look relatively easy to score.
- The defense was undeniably solid. No, I don't think it was New Jersey's best effort - Carter and Kidd both seemed somewhat disinterested in the proceedings. But credit the Clippers with keeping the Nets out of the paint almost entirely, and forcing them to shoot contested jump shots - which they missed.
- Paul Davis looked good for the second game in a row. You know, we all have mild prejudices (or sometimes not so mild), and often we're not even aware of them. A big white center is going to get described as 'slow' or 'unathletic' because of how he looks. But Paul Davis is neither slow nor unathletic. He is very quick to the ball, and he is a quick jumper for a guy his size. His block of Jefferson in the fourth quarter was the other big highlight of the game. Put that in a Gatorade commercial!
- Speaking of big, white, doofus-y looking centers, who are freakishly athletic, Chris Kaman continues to astound. When he starts converting the easy buckets (and I feel certain he will eventually) his shooting percentage is going to be in the high 50s. He made absolutely everything else tonight. Right handed jump hooks, left handed sky hooks, jump shots. In the first half, he wheeled into the lane over his right shoulder, and when Collins setup on his left hand, he calmly swished a short jumper with his right. In the second half, and a similar play, Boone actually got a piece of the ball as Kaman was starting his leftie jump hook - and Chris again switched the ball to his right hand and scored. Frankly, that one was pretty amazing. 18 points, 14 rebounds, 2 blocks - stop me if you've heard this one before. He now has 16 double-doubles in 20 games, and 6 in a row.
I found myself agreeing with Mike Smith much more than I like during this game. Vince Carter did NOT show up to play. Jason Kidd did NOT have the impact you expect him to, despite the triple double. (Being defended by Brevin Knight and Dan Dickau, isn't it obvious that the Nets should have posted Kidd? I wrote about it in my preview, the Clippers worried about it in their pre-game preparations... but I think there was one Kidd post-up all game long. What was Lawrence Frank doing?)
And speaking of Frank, was it my imagination, or did he have his guys fouling to extend the game so that Jason Kidd could get his triple double? They foul intentionally with 37 seconds left down 10, Mobley misses one of the free throws, Kidd gets his bucket to get the triple double, and they don't foul with 29 seconds left down 9? What is that?
The Clippers are now 4-5 on the road, one of the stranger facts of this strange season. The Brand-name Clippers didn't get their FIRST road win until Dec. 9th last season, and they didn't get their 4th road win until Jan. 8th. But the Generic Clippers have four wins on Dec. 11th. Go figure. Of course, that leaves them at 4-7 at home. I guess that means it's a good thing that they have three games left on this road trip. They need to keep playing defense this way - but they'll also need to take better care of the ball and make their damn layups! If they do those things, they should even up their road record in Charlotte tomorrow night.