What are you gonna do?
The Clippers opened the second half with a 14-2 run to take a 1 point lead in an away game against the team with the best record in the Western Conference. At that point the Hornets were 2 for 9 on three pointers. Over the next 19 minutes, New Orleans made 12 threes and missed 3. 12 for 15. Was the Clippers three point defense terrible? Was it great while the Hornets were shooting 2 for 9 (22%) and terrible while they were shooting 12 for 15 (80%)? Not really, no. The Hornets got white hot - crazy hot - Brazilian super model hot - and that was that. They rebuilt a 19 point lead in no time, and coasted to the easy win.
What's especially frustrating is the way it started. With that one point lead at 53-52, Maggette almost stole a pass from Chris Paul to Peja Stojakovic in the corner. But he only got a piece, and the deflection managed to find it's way to Peja, who buried the three from the same spot where he had tossed up an air ball the prior possession. Two possessions after that, a botched lob to Tyson Chandler probably should have been gathered in by Tim Thomas. Instead, in the scramble for the ball, Chandler dug it out and Chris Paul found Peja alone on the three point line, and the bomb-fest was on. With two straight under his belt (both essentially on busted plays), Peja lost all semblance of a conscience. If a player can run at full speed away from the basket around a screen and in one motion catch a pass and shoot from beyond 23 feet while falling away from the basket and make it... well, there's simply no defense for that. You congratulate the guy and move on to Memphis. Nothing else you can do.
For five consecutive Peja threes in a four minute span, I don't think the net moved. It was sick. Then it rubbed off on Jannero Pargo and Rasual Butler, who combined to make 6 of 8 threes themselves. Marcus Vinicius even made the 8th three of his career to conclude the display. After the game, Butler said "Making shots is contagious." You think? It was a bloody epidemic.
The shame of it is that the Clippers held the Hornets top two scorers in check, and wasted some pretty good games from their own people. Chris Paul scored only 8 on 3 for 12 shooting (though he did have 14 assists). And David West, who usually destroys the Clippers, had a nightmare, shooting 4 for 15 for 14 points. Meanwhile Cat Mobley looked sharp scoring 20 points on 9 for 17 shooting, Corey Maggette scored 24 points on 13 shots, and Sam Cassell shot 7 for 12 for 16.
Unfortunately, Chris Kaman had only 9 - worse, he only got 7 shots in the game - worse still, he was scoreless in the second half. In the last game in LA, Tyson Chandler did a great job defending K2 - better than anyone this season I'd say. But you still have to get the ball to him and see what he can do. The Clippers were much too willing to simply ignore the post this time. Also on the sub par side was Al Thornton, coming off his best game against the Kings. Al was 1 for 6 and scored only 6 points in this game. He managed to grab only one rebound in 24 minutes. It was disappointing to say the least.
But really, nothing else matters about this game. Before the barrage, I thought the Clippers scoring drought at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second was significant. In another game, the 5 point play in the final 30 seconds of the third quarter might have been a turning point. But no. Not in this game. Really there's only one thing that you need to know about this game: New Orleans made 6 threes in a row in the third quarter to turn a one point deficit into a 19 point lead, they made 6 more out of 9 after that, and in so doing they became the first Western Conference team to win 30 games.