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Clippers 120 - Portland 112

Funny story.

I went to a Christmas party with the ClipperWidow tonight at her yoga studio.  When I got back about 10:30, I turned on the TV, and before the picture had even warmed up, I heard Milph for just a few seconds.  Something in the tone made me believe that the Clippers had lost a close game.  Obviously, we all know that I was wrong, and it was the tone of exhaustion after a close win or something like that.  But I misinterpreted it.  I guess I'm just not used to any winning tone.

Anyway, I didn't see any score, or hear anything specific.  But I kind of just felt in my gut that the Clippers had lost another close one.  I mentioned this to the ClipperWidow, and she said "Fast forward to the end, let's see if you're right."  Normally I wouldn't do that, but she was showing an interest in my hobby, so I thought, OK.  I went to the end of the program.

But I only went to the scheduled end of the game.  And sure enough, it shows 97-94 with less than 10 seconds left and Blake shooting free throws.  I conclude that I was absolutely correct, and go back to watching the game, curious to see exactly how they would manage to lose.

So I watched most of the game with what I believed to be the knowledge that the Clippers had lost.  Which of course made every missed free throw, every loose ball, every call that didn't go the Clippers way, all the more frustrating.

And the fact that Baron Davis threw the ball away with 8 seconds left was the real killer.  Here Blake had given them a gift, and Baron, who was supposed to be the clutch end of game scorer the team had never had, throws the ball away.  How very not clutch.  I was pissed.  So imagine my surprise when he gets a chance to redeem himself and nails a tough three at the buzzer to send the game into OT.

Now, at this point I'm still very, very worried.  I'd wrongly assumed that the game had ended in regulation.  But maybe I was still right about the 'tone' of a close loss I thought I had detected.  Baron's three to open the OT, which of course invoked Lawler's Law, wasn't even enough to calm my nerves.  The Clippers have allowed other teams to break the Law on many occasions (although I can't ever remember the Clippers managing to do so).

Then, when it became obvious that no one on the Clippers could stop Brandon Roy, I once again became convinced that the Clippers were going to lose.

Happily, I was wrong.  The Clippers won, and it was the game of the season for the team.  You know, Mike Smith said some sort of crap in his pre-game 'Keys' about how a win in Portland could start the team on a streak.  Could it happen?  Could Mike Smith be right?

But between the party and watching a double OT game on TiVo, it's really late, and I'm not going to be able to give this recap the attention it deserves.  Too bad the team doesn't have 3 days off after that game - we'd be spending the down time talking about making the playoffs and such, rather than obsessing about firing the coach and trading Kaman.  As it is, we've got Houston tomorrow night - hardly any time at all to savor this one.

A few random thoughts:

  • Just a great game. 
  • Brandon Roy is really, really good.  Did I already mention that?  Man, he's good. 
  • Mardy Collins, as we feared, is becoming MDsr's new favorite wing defender.  As it happens, he matches up well against Roy, so it's pretty hard to argue with it in this game.  But he missed an absolute layup, and then completely bricked two free throws, in the fourth quarter.  Quinton Ross could make his layups and his free throws.
  • Why was Baron on Roy for the last two possessions of the first OT?  Mardy was in the game, so why not use him?  The better question of course is why did the Clippers not double Roy at that point.  They went to the early double in the second OT, and ended up running away with the game when they did.  After Orlando's win in Portland on Tuesday, it started to look like you had to double Roy down the stretch.  After tonight, it's in every single team's playbook.
  • On consecutive possessions in the first OT, the Clippers got a switch on the high pick and roll, and ended up with Roy defending Z-Bo in the post.  Each time, Camby got him the ball.  And Zach missed one layup, and then Roy blocked the next one (though Zach did get the ball back and subsequently convert a couple of free throws).  You have to remember, I was still convinced the Clippers were going to lose at this point, so I was looking for the things they did wrong down the stretch.  At any rate, I'd like to see Zach finish stronger there - and also, Brandon Roy is really, really good.
  • Rudy Fernandez is good too.  But it is interesting that Roy's dominance of the ball in late game situations seems to take everyone else out of the flow.  It's worth noting that Roy set his season high for the third consecutive game - and the Blazers lost all three.  They are 0-3 when he scores 30 or more.  Nate McMillan should probably make a note of that.
  • I thought Milph was pretty harsh on Greg Oden.  After all, he scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds - not too shabby.  Obviously the expectations for the guy were so sky high that he's having trouble living up to them.  But I will admit, he doesn't look smooth.  Did we not suggest on this here blog that Oden was going to be hard pressed to be an upgrade over Przybilla?  Milph felt convinced that the Blazers were better tonight with Przybilla, and it's hard to argue the point. 
  • Zach Randolph is playing incredibly well.  He was rusty in his first game as a Clipper, but in the seven games since then he's scored at least 21 in every single one, and he's averaging 25 in that time.  But the thing that's truly unexpected is the shooting percentage.  A career 46.5% shooter, he's 74 for 143 in the last seven games - 53%.  It's really good to get a win, as I just had the feeling that we were really wasting some great games from Z-Bo. 
  • It doesn't matter now, but the out of bounds call that went against the Clippers in the fourth quarter was just terrible.  I have no idea how any one official could possibly have missed that call, let alone three.  I mean, the laws of physics pretty much dictated that the ball was off of Aldridge.  It ended up in the 6th row, and Aldridge was the only player slapping at it.  Really, really bad.  Inexcusable. 
  • Steve Blake was 31 for 33 from the line coming into the game.  He missed 4 free throws in the final 20 seconds of regulation.  So let's just remember that the next time we're saying that the Clippers never get any breaks.  The odds of a 94% free throw shooter missing 4 of 5 are something like 1 in 10,000, if my back of the napkin math is right. 
  • So what do we think of Baron now?  27 points on 29 shots is not in fact particularly good.  But he's certainly willing to take the big shots, and tonight, he hit a few (including the absolutely biggest one). 
  • Of course, this game may take a toll on the next one.  Back to backs are tough.  The second game of a back to back after a double OT game in which 4 players logged at least 43 minutes is brutal.

This Clippers team is fun to watch.  Much more fun than they were a couple of weeks ago.  They're certainly a far cry from the Golden State style running team, but they'll run when the get the chance.  And there are some good passers and some good shooters out there on the floor.  It's obviously a lot more fun to win, but remember:  I watched most of the game thinking the team was going to lose, and I was still enjoying it.  Of course, that was an unusually well played game.  As Blazer Dave said in his FanPost, Portland wasn't giving the Clippers anything.  But the Clippers went out a took away a win.

I'm tired.  The Rockets preview may be a little late.