After re-watching most of the game on TiVo (why would I do that to myself, you ask? A fair question...), I have a few more things to say.
I don't want to make more of Chris Kaman's missed layups than they are, but I did notice something.
- The Clippers scored on 2 of their first three possessions of the game. When Kaman missed a bunny on the next possession, the resulting Kings possession gave them their first lead, and a few minutes later it was 18-8.
- The Clippers scored on their first two possessions of the second half. When Kaman missed TWO bunnies on the next possession, the Kings went on a 9-2 run and built their biggest lead of the game.
Who was it that said a missed layup can demoralize a team? Oh yeah, that was me.
The game was lost on three runs. 10-0 early in the first, 12-6 at the end of the quarter, and 12-2 early in the second (the above mentioned 9-2 run was also significant as it forestalled a potential Clipper comeback). If you do the math, those three runs in less than 18 minutes of basketball add up to +26 for the Kings. Indeed, their lead stood at 23 as of that point, meaning the Clippers countered the runs with break even basketball.
- Each run was maddening in it's own way. The 10-0 run happened on 4 Kings trips - 2 dunks, 2 open threes. Now you're down 10. I'm sorry, were you sleeping? I hate to disturb you.
- The 12-6 run may not seem like much, but it featured not one but two missed threes where the rebound HIT THE FLOOR and then resulted in a made Kings three. Yet another missed three resulted in a layup when nobody bothered to box out. Eight points on second chances after missed threes, and now you're down 13. Wake up sleepy head. We need to get going.
- The 12-2 run was remarkable for who was on the floor and the complete ineptitude of the Clipper offense. The Kings lineup was Artest, Salmons, Garcia, Douby and Williams, and the Clippers attack featured 3 turnovers, an airball and a blocked shot. Brand made one jumper, and it was the only time in 6 possessions that the Clippers got a shot to the rim. Now you're down 23. Get you're ass out of that bed!
Amazingly, some other stars aligned for the Clippers on Sunday. Joey Crawford did his part by tossing Tim Duncan out of the Mavs game for having a bit of a chuckle on the bench. Joey has a strict no-mirth policy. The resulting Mavs win assured the Suns of the number two seed, which means they have nothing to play for tomorrow night.
In that same game, Avery Johnson put Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard back into the game with 9 minutes to go in order to get the win in a completely meaningless game. I can't imagine that the hyper-competitive little General is going to sit those guys against Nellie and the Dubs if he's going to play them in that situation.
A couple thoughts on the Crawford-Duncan thing. Timmy has this rep among announcers and writers as an angel. "He's such a gentlemen, a credit to the game" etc. etc. Just because he's not tatted up doesn't mean he's not an asshole. Tim Duncan disputes every single call, and anyone who watches the NBA knows that. He may not get in a refs' face, he may not yell and scream, but he is the king of the 'Who me?' look and the eye roll, and I'm sure many NBA refs find that even more annoying (I know I do). So let's stop pretending that Tim Duncan is a saint.
BUT, you can't chase a guy for laughing on the bench from THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COURT. You can't do that to anybody - but to do it to a team's most important player is game-changing and inexcusable. Joey needs a reprimand from the league.
In general the Crawford's, Bavetta's and Javie's of the league, the 'look at me, I'm in charge' refs, need to be reigned in. They are out of control and having way too much impact on games. The league needs to foster a make the call and move on approach and curb this center of attention thing.
However the opposite seems to be true. Punk refs like Zach Zarba seem to relish making the big call and letting the players know he's tough as much as the vets. It's a disturbing trend.