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Grizzlies 125 - Clippers 120

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I'm a slacker.  I didn't write a preview for the Hornets game or the Grizzlies game.  I owe you this recap.  And I have to announce the winners of the 'Fix the Clips' contest also.  Plus there's the ongoing 'he said, the other he said' stuff going on with MDsr and DTS and my neighbor Andy Roeser.  (Actually, on that last subject, the less said the better probably, at least until there's more news.)

Let's try to get caught up a little.

Without Chris Kaman, the Generic Clippers are not going to beat a lot of teams.  But the Grizzlies without Pau Gasol would seem to be on the short list.  Had the Clippers pulled this one out, I guess I would have been happy.  ClipperMax and I were certainly into it during the OT, and pretty excited when Maggette hit a three to give them a three point lead.  But in the end, a OT win over the Pau-less Grizzlies is hardly different than an OT loss, and the loss may get you another ping pong ball.  So there's that.

The Clippers got 4 points and 3 rebounds in 31 minutes from Aaron Williams and Josh Powell.  (Is it time to ask aloud why Williams is on the roster?  Waive him and pick up ANYBODY in the D-League.  This is silly.)  4 and 3 is not a very good replacement for 18 and 14.

But even without K2, the Clippers had matchup advantages everywhere on offense.  Kyle Lowry couldn't guard Sam Cassell, Hakim Warrick couldn't guard Tim Thomas, and nobody could guard Corey Maggette.  Unfortunately, as sometimes happens in the Clippers offense, there were times that they were so intent on getting the matchup that they wanted, that the ended up getting nothing.  On several occasions they tried to go to Cat Mobley against Juan Carlos Navarro but had so much trouble making the entry pass that they ended up forcing a shot against the shot clock.  

And then there was the other end of the floor.  For the second game in a row, the Clippers allowed a team to shoot over 55% in adjusted field goal percentage (New Orleans 55%, Memphis 59%).  Defense is the one thing that the Generic Clippers have continued to do reasonably well.  In fact, in the last two games, the Clippers have gone from 9th in the league in points allowed per possession to 12th.  Against the Grizzlies, the absence of K2 blocking shots at the rim was clearly a factor.  But still.  Of course, there's something to be said for running into teams shooting really well, which these clearly were.  Two second year pros (Lowry and Rudy Gay) both went for career highs in this game.  Clearly the defense wasn't great, but those guys also played out of their heads.

At any rate, not a lot of point in dwelling on this one.  (Although a fresh two game winning streak may end up being gasoline on the DTS - MDsr fire.)  A few other observations:

Corey Maggette is playing really well right now.  35 points on 14 shots, 3 for 4 on three pointers, 9 rebounds, only 3 turnovers, and the key defensive play that gave the Clippers a chance to win the game.  That's a good game.

Tim Thomas was 10 for 13 in the game before fouling out.  It's worth saying that I did not think the key charge at the end of the game was a clear cut call.  Ralph and Mike got hung up on whether or not Navarro was in the restricted area (he wasn't).  But Thomas' hip was past Navarro on the play before the contact, and usually that's not a foul.

The play of the game was Lowry stealing an offensive rebound to give the Grizzlies the lead in OT.  That was Sam Cassell's box out.  He went to the rim instead of boxing out, and it cost the game.  It's the little things, right?

The offense/defense dilemma was on full display.  Cassell couldn't keep Lowry out of the lane, but Knight couldn't score.  Q Ross was essential on defense (he had a key steal and a key block in OT as the Clippers took their first lead of the entire game), but a cipher on offense.  If each team got 100 time outs, the Clippers would play offense/defense the whole time (and games would take 6 hours).  It's one thing to have a player who is better on one end or the other.  But this all offense/no defense and vice versa thing is getting old.

Last thing:  Have the Clippers completed a successful alley oop this season?  It's bordering on the ridiculous.  The guys playing at Venice Beach throw better alley oops than the Clippers.