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Clippers 103 - Warriors 90

Well, it took a Chris Kaman illness, a Tim Thomas injury and an ongoing abdominal strain slowing Sam Cassell, but my favorite Clippers lineup was on the floor for most of the fourth quarter on Saturday.  You couldn't play it against every team, but the Warriors are not huge, and with Brand at the 5, Maggette at the 4, Ross at the 3, Mobley at the 2 and Livingston at the 1, the Clippers flashed a combination of offense, defense and athleticism that we rarely see.  To be fair, Tim Thomas played very well in this game (a 17 point 10 rebound double-double) but when he left the game with 7:47 left after tweaking his back, the Clippers had a two point lead.  They immediately reeled off 8 straight, and outscored the Warriors 20-7 to put the game away.  With Livingston, Ross, Mobley and Maggette playing terrific defense on the ball, and Elton patrolling the paint to block half of his career high tying 8 blocked shots in the final 8 minutes, the Clippers defense shut down the Warriors' supposedly high powered offense.  (The 8-0 run would have been 12-0 had the Clippers converted two consecutive man-advantage breaks rather than picking up offensive fouls.)  

Elton Brand = BEAST
Elton Brand
                                           © Henry Chen, all rights reserved
As described by Atma Brother ONE on Golden State of Mind, Elton Brand = BEAST.  (Check out his "5 Reasons Why I Love the Clippers" which he wrote simply because of all the love in his heart.)  Elton had 31 points on 11 for 19 shooting, 12 rebounds and the aforementioned 8 blocks.  His defense at the rim in the fourth quarter changed the game completely.  Not only did he block four shots; he kept all four in play, and the Clippers controlled three of them.  

Livingston had a terrific game.  Limited to 33 minutes by foul trouble, he had 14 points and 14 rebounds in one of his strongest games of the season.  (Amazingly the AP recap of the game does not say one word about Livingston - how is this possible?)  He seemed to command the floor like I haven't seen this season.  He was comfortable and confident and the offense flowed when he was on the floor.

Maggette, averaging 38.5 minutes per game since the All Star break, also played very well.  It was not his strongest offensive effort (although he did finish with 18 points on 9 shots, so that's not bad), but he was a positive presence in every aspect of the game, which may earn him continued increased minutes from MDsr.  Corey played terrific defense - I've argued before that he's best if you put him on a scorer where his athleticism can be used as a strength rather than try to hide him elsewhere on the floor, where his impatience and lack of focus make him a poor help defender and weak on rotations.  In the fourth quarter, guarding Stephen Jackson and then Al Harrington, Corey consistently shut down his assignment, stole the ball from Jackson and drew a charge from Harrington.  On the game, Corey had 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals to go with his 18 points - all in all, a terrific fantasy hoops line.  He also had 4 turnovers, the one blemish on his box score.  

James Singleton was also productive in limited floor time.  He grabbed 5 offensive rebounds and 8 overall in only 13 minutes, providing a great boost for the team.  

As a team the Clippers were plus 13 rebounds and plus 20 in free throw attempts, some key statistics where they were beaten by the Suns on Tuesday.  The Clippers aren't going to beat many teams if they don't control the boards and get to the line, but certainly they have to do it against the Warriors (and the Suns, if they ever expect to beat them).

With four winnable games next week (home against the Bobcats, a home-and-home with the Sonics and then home against the Pacers) and only a half game out of 7th place in the West, the Clippers have this week to build some momentum.  The schedule gets decidedly tougher after that and remains that way the rest of the season.