Editor's Note: I'm promoting a comment by Citizen ZhivClip to the front page. It's a nice overview of the last couple of weeks. I've added a couple of ClipperSteve asides in italics.
Nice job of staying the course, everyone. I've been keeping up and reading but couldn't post and then for the last week have been catching up on stuff and wasn't sure about the right moment to jump back into the mix. At any rate, I've loved a lot of the stuff here over the last few weeks. The Clips may be struggling through their generic months, but ClipsNation is solid and strong and keeping it interesting.
--Good San Antonio game. Nice team effort, nice fleeting 10 pt. lead, nice fleeting 4th quarter lead after the TT 3, and overall a very solid game that would have produced a W against most teams, but not SA, especially with the Spurs, as CS points out, going to the line on every Parker and Ginobili drive. Should add that GSW beat the Spurs the next night, but had to hit a flurry of 3s to do it and get the BD GSW magic going to do it. Not sure what to make of it, but the Spurs and the Suns seem pretty beatable these days, while the Lakers look pretty strong, and the New Orleans/Laker game tonight should be interesting. (Chris Paul's last national TV appearance of the season is Friday. What a crime that is. Good thing we get to see the 8 win Heat and the 9 win Sonics constantly. - CS) At any rate, it was great to see the Clips play a good game. And it seems pretty obvious that a big part of the quality of Clip play comes from the fact that guys are healthy. Being home the last few days without playing, they should be even healthier--especially Mobley, and I guess Thomas and Cassell too, and it turns out that BKnight (playing great) needs the rest too.
Cassell is due to have a good game. His failure to hit a shot the last couple of games has been a drag on the team's effort. A good game from Cassell would make up for Knight having to sit with the stress reaction. And since Dickau has been on the shelf, he should be healthy and effective too, I would think, and hopefully he won't be rusty.
--Another factor is Thornton in the starting lineup. That's some progress (and valuable minutes), and I just hope it continues. Dunleavy got cute, in the way he is prone to, starting Josh Powell against David West. MD should just close his eyes and start Kaman/Thornton/Maggette until Brand comes back, and let the rest work itself out. I still say that TT is a valuable player off the bench, and it was nice to see MD go to Powell at first and take his time bringing TT in. (We're not the only ones who think Thomas should be coming off the bench in a limited role. 'Empty the Bench' put him on their list of 10 guys who should NOT be playing 20 minutes per game. - CS) Powell is getting better as he gets minutes, starting to make some plays and build some confidence, and he's rebounding well, which is the important thing. But it's still Josh Powell, and it was a doofus move to start him against David West, especially since, in the event, Thornton did a much better job on West, but it's a good mix. I have to hope that the relatively minor TT injury was just the right wrinkle to move Thornton up, establish Powell as a potential resource, and reduce TT's minutes.
--Tough break for my man Paul Davis, felled with classic Clipper timing. Now, I agree, he should be waived for roster flexibility. There was a big missed opportunity to get him minutes in the first 30 games, which I've said a lot about, and I think he might have established himself pretty well. But it didn't happen, and now it's hard to say that he's ever going to be especially meaningful to a Kaman/Brand Clipper team. He'll rehab and work hard, but it's highly improbable that he would become an essential or necessary component, as opposed to an interchangeable part. Now we get to find out about Powell, but of course the real issue is to see how Thornton progresses.
--The Clips managed to squeak out the 10th victory by the end of the year, but in my original calculations I was just trying to get the Clips to January, and didn't see this tough stretch. And that was also based on optimistic healing for Brand, which we haven't heard anything about since New Year's, except for the note that the All-Star break may be too optimistic. I believe Liv is at the doctor this week and perhaps we'll hear tonight about him going to the next training level, but you would think that Brand would be getting looked at this week or next, or at least we would hear how his running is going on that special treadmill, whatever. (Liv was in Alabama Tuesday to meet with Dr. Andrews and presumably to hang out with Paul Davis for awhile. No update yet on Shaun following that meeting. I'd expect a press release from the team in a day or two, and Ralph and Mike might have something to say about it tonight as well. - CS)
--Not sure what's going to happen with Cassell--although it'd be nice if started making some shots--but it's an interesting wrinkle that it may be financially beneficial for Maggette to stick with the Clips. I'm not sure what to think about that. There was a nice mini-Maggettifesto update on ClipperBlog last week, (here's the link) - CS which could use some attention. Right now it would be nice to see a relatively healthy team start playing the kind of game they played against SA, and get a few wins, have Brand come back, etc., and see a good team on the floor playing together. There will still be a bunch of losses because of the schedule, but now that guys are healthy it doesn't seem like the Clips are built to tank effectively enough to make a difference, even if Brand takes an extra month before coming back. (Speaking of ClipperBlog and tanking, Kevin had something to say about that last week as well. I agree. With ping pong balls playing their role, the bad karma of playing less than your best doesn't seem worth it. At the same time, rushing EB back onto the court has little upside. I'd love to see the team play well down the stretch - but not so well that they rise from 6th in the draft to 12th, know what I mean? Maybe they can have a little run, as a proof of concept, but still retain top 10 pick. - CS)
Happy New Year everybody.