It's becoming eerie. Not to mention depressing.
In each of the Clippers 5 games, they have gone through a brutal stretch of total incompetence. 17-0, 18-0, no field goals for 8 minutes... that sort of thing. In 4 of 5 cases, the run has broken open a previously close game - in the other one, it erased a substantial Clipper lead to send the game into OT on the way to defeat.
Tonight the Clippers played well enough for 40 minutes to lead 81-79. This, despite foul trouble for each of their three best players, and a discrepancy in fouls called of about 2 to 1. But over the course of the next 7 minutes, the Lakers went on a 22-0 run (a new season high in runs allowed!). It's never a good time to give up a 22-0 run. But when you do it over the course of 7 minutes with 8 minutes left in the game, you don't leave yourself a lot of time to recover.
I'm at a loss. Why does this keep happening? Is it a lack of intensity? When the other team steps up the level of play, do the Clippers simply not respond? Is it a lack of conditioning? Did so many key guys miss training camp that they're out of shape and sucking wind in the fourth quarter? How can this be explained? I'll tell you this much - it's no fun to watch.
I don't have a lot more to say about this game. Like I said, for 40 minutes the Clippers looked pretty good. Just like they looked OK for about 35 minutes against the Jazz on Monday, and for about 30 minutes in Utah before that. Actually, if you graph how long the Clippers were competitive in each game, I guess the trend is encouraging. At this rate, they'll wait for the last few minutes before they completey collapse against Houston on Friday. Maybe they'll play a full game against Dallas this weekend. (I hope that game doesn't go into overtime - it will be just enough time for a collapse at this current rate.)
Some bullet point thoughts:
- Tim Thomas played well. But he's still maddening at times. His lasy pass was one of many lackadaisical plays that helped the Lakers during their run.
- Baron had a great first half, but a disappointing second half. Foul trouble did not help as far as that's concerned.
- Mike Taylor looked really good. At least he plays with energy, and I like the way he finishes for a little guy.
- Bynum is a game-changer around the basket - particularly when officiating crews give him the benefit of every call.
- Marcus Camby had 4 blocked shots in only 16 minutes of playing time. It wasn't conditioning that kept him off the floor, but rather foul trouble.
- During the 22-0 run, the Clippers attempted 5 threes and several other long jumpers. So it's little wonder that they're not getting to the line.
For the fourth time in five games, the Clippers shot under 40%. In the other one, they made it all the way to 40.3%. If you can't shoot, and you can't get to the free throw line, you're not going to win a lot of NBA games. One or both of those things needs to change quickly.