There is not much positive to say about this game. I didn't watch the first half, and I thought the second half was incredibly poorly played. Then I heard Milph talking about how much better it was than the first half. Yikes.
Playing against a team missing arguably their four best players, with a fifth one just back from an injury, the Clippers required double overtime to win the game, and had to get a couple of huge breaks at that.
The missing Pacers were Troy Murphy, Marquis Daniels, and leading scorer Danny Granger, all in the hospital with a viral infection, and Mike Dunleavy Jr., who's been out all season. In addition to them, TJ Ford was returning from a groin pull, and was supposed to have his minutes limited.
The breaks were a big three from Al Thornton to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation, and a huge mistake by Jarrett Jack when the Pacers had a chance to hold for the final shot and a chance to win the game at the end of the first OT.
Certainly a win is a win, and we'll take it. But if there is such a thing as a moral victory, then there must also be a moral defeat. And this was a moral defeat.
And it has at least some concrete repercussions as well. In the midst of four games in five nights, with a razor thin bench, the Clippers starters all played between 48 and 50 minutes. According to ESPN.com and the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in the shot clock era that a team has had five players all play at least 48 minutes. How's that going to feel tomorrow night in Milwaukee? Midway through the fourth quarter Mike Smith was complimenting Baron Davis for conserving his energy - and all I could think was, you better start effing playing or you're going to lose this game, and then you won't feel so energetic. Double overtime is another consequence I hadn't even considered. By the way, the Clippers have now played 5 extra periods in their last 5 games - two double overtimes and a single overtime. It's got to be taking a toll.
Good stuff... Good stuff... What good stuff happened in the game?
- Zach Randolph went for 34, making it 4 times in 5 games that he's scored 30 or more. Of course, he also had 6 turnovers, so that's not so good.
- Al Thornton hit the biggest shot of his pro career, sinking a three with about 7 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
- The starters all scored in double figures for the fifth straight game. Then again, if you're logging 48+ minutes, you kind of need to be getting at least 10 points.
That's about it. I could go on for pages and pages about the bad stuff. But I won't. Just a few important ones.
- The Clippers defensive energy in this game was non-existent, at least in the second half while I was watching. The stops they got were from sheer ineptitude on the part of the Pacers. But the defense was just awful - going under screens, failing to rotate, failing to close out on shooter. Let's hope it's an aberrance; the team had been starting to play pretty well on defense.
- The bench got thinner when Mike Taylor left the game with a broken thumb. I have no idea how long he'll be out. We will see a lot more of Jason Hart for the foreseeable future, and we may see some Eric Gordon at the point.
- The bench scored a measly 5 points tonight. Of course, they barely played, and only took 6 shots.
- Baron Davis continues to be almost futile shooting the ball. 5 for 18, including 0 for 4 on threes in this game. If this is a slump, it's showing no signs of letting up.
The trip ends tomorrow night in Milwaukee. Although the Bucks are far from great, they're much better than the Pacers team the Clippers faced tonight. LA will have to play much better - particularly on defense - to get a win there. 3 and 1 would be an acceptable trip; 2-2, given the circumstances, would have to be considered a disappoinment.