Let's be clear. The Generic Clippers have very limited options on offense. They are simply not good enough to overcome sub-par games from any of their top players.
Chris Kaman was 1 for 10 in this game. Sam Cassell was 1 for 8. There is just no way this team gets a win when that happens. Surprisingly (shockingly really) the rest of the team shot well. With the exception of Richie Frahm who was 0 for 1, every other Clipper made at least half of their shots, led by Corey Maggette at 8 for 15 and Al Thornton at 7 for 11. But 2 for 18 from Kaman and Cassell is just too big a hole.
Clearly the Clippers are at a disadvantage with their injury situation. But MDsr really outsmarted himself in this game. With only two healthy bigs once again, he felt compelled to start Josh Powell alongside Kaman to counter David West and Tyson Chandler. As it happens, West lit Powell up in the first quarter, scoring 12 of the Hornets' first 18 points while being guarded by Powell. In the second quarter with Thornton playing power forward, West scored 2 points, and the Clippers reeled off a 16-4 run to close the half with a tie. So let's see - Thornton is clearly better than Powell offensively. And the results were clearly better defensively against West. So naturally, you start the second half with... Powell.
Let me reiterate - the Clippers were not going to win this game with Kaman and Cassell going 2 for 18. They did an admirable job battling back in the second quarter. But in the third quarter with Kaman (ice cold), Cassell (ice cold), Ross (not a scorer), Powell (not a scorer) and Maggette on the floor, it got pretty ugly. A little over 7 minutes in, the Hornets had outscored LA 17 to 7, and Maggette had 5 of the 7. You have to go with Cassell and Kaman - they're your stars, you have to hope that they're going to turn it around, as Kaman did in the second half against the Spurs. But why not start Thornton over Powell? Wouldn't that make a lot of sense?
I'm not really sold on the Hornets just yet. David West always kills the Clippers. Chris Paul did not have his best game, but still managed 13 assists versus 1 turnover. Tyson Chandler does a great job on defense and rebounding (although this might have been a different game if the officials had called even some of the abuse that he was dishing out to Kaman). But they remain ridiculously thin. Marcus Vinicius and Hilton Armstrong? REALLY?
Not much more to say here. I'll close with one encouraging trend, and one discouraging trend.
- Al Thornton is getting more and more comfortable. He has had games of 25, 14 and 15 in the five since Tim Thomas went down, and remains one of the only Clippers who can get his own shot. I know he was 4 for 16 in the two Phoenix games and that's going to happen sometimes too. But the guy needs minutes. The team almost has enough weapons when he's on the court. Almost.
- Chris Kaman is coming back to earth. In his last 8 games, he is 49 for 125 - 39%. It's not really his fault. It's just that it took the league about 6 weeks to get their scouting reports updated, and now he's the centerpiece of every defensive game plan. As a result, he's been held to single digit scoring twice in the last three games - the only two times he's been in single digits all season. I will say this for him though - he continues to develop. He handles the double team well. His passing is much improved (5 assists versus 1 turnover tonight). He continues to rebound and block shots. It's just really tough to score when the opposition is loaded up to stop you - especially when there aren't enough scorers around you to make them pay.
The truth is, with a healthy Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston, Chris Kaman would be the second low post option, and the third or fourth option overall. That's about right.