With the win, the Clippers are now 2-0 in Viewing Party Games attended by ClipperSteve. Yes, that's correct, I fulfilled my responsibility (damn you John R) and schlepped up to Manhattan Beach to watch the game. The win (and the sight of ClipperZoe favorites Taylor and Shannon as well as several other of the Clipper Spirit) was the reward. You're welcome.
The Clippers never trailed in this game, and dominated in essentially every aspect. They led in rebounds (45-37), field goal percentage (47.5% to 42%), assists (22-16) and blocked shots (3-0). So why did they only win by 4, you ask? Free throws.
The Kings 39 free throws to the Clippers' 25, and that discrepancy doesn't come close to telling the story, as the Clippers got six of their shots in at the end when the Kings were forced to foul. It was 38 to 19 until the final 30 seconds.
The whistles did two things - they created easy scoring opportunities for the Kings, who as noted were shooting 42% from the field. In fact, if the Kings had shot better than 2 out of 3 from the in, it could easily have been a different outcome. They missed 13 free throws in a four point game. The whistles also forced Clipper personnel to the bench, hurting the team's rhythm. Chris Kaman ended up with a double-double, 10 points on 5 for 6 shooting and 12 rebounds, and he only played 22 minutes before fouling out. Imagine if he'd gotten to play, oh, I dunno, an entire half?
But who cares about the referees at a time like this? The Clippers finally won a game in Arco Arena. Can I get an "Amen"?
And the good news doesn't end there. The Nuggets lost in Phoenix as expected, and Carmelo Anthony apparently has a sore ankle as well. And the Lakers lost in OT to the Rockets, despite Kobe scoring 53, including the game-tying three after a missed Kwame Brown free throw in the final seconds of regulation. The Nuggets loss in particular is significant, as the Clippers are now a mere half game behind them, with a game in Staples in eight days. You better believe that each and every one of these teams would rather play Phoenix in the first round than Dallas. Hell, the Lakers would happily fall to 7th to play the Suns instead of the Spurs if they could figure out a way to do it without falling to 8th or 9th.
The demons of Sacramento have been exorcised.
And the magic number is down to 9.