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Houston 105 - Clippers 79

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That one was depressing.

I'm not sure why, in this season of 54 losses and counting, that one felt particularly futile.  Perhaps it was seeing yet another key player leave the court.  (By the way, the last two games I've been to were Dallas when Kaman turned an ankle and last night when Maggette pulled a hammie, and they have not won a single game I've attended this season, so I'm apparently not very good luck for the team.)  Perhaps it was watching the Rockets play incredibly well DESPITE the absence of two starters (Yao and Alston) and the sub-par performance of a third (McGrady was 5 for 16) - I mean, if their reserves can run an offense and get good shots, why can't the Clippers?  

I can't even bring myself to be AYSO-coach-encouraging after this one.  Josh Powell, career high 22 and 10 rebounds, 11 for 14 from the field?  Whatever.  I want him on the bench, mired behind Kaman and Brand and Thomas and Thornton and hopefully some others.  Elton Brand, 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in his third game in almost a year?  That's great, but it's only what we expect (perhaps unfairly) and it was just depressing watching him struggle against double and triple teams, with no one to throw the ball to - he doesn't know where they're going to be because he's NEVER played with them, and besides, even if he passes it, no one can actually make a shot.

Besides Powell and Brand, every single Clipper was a disaster in this game.  So you say, "What about Cat Mobley?  He wasn't so bad with 11 points."  Well, forgive me if I want a little more out of a guy making $8M when he's one of two players available who wasn't waived within the last year or currently making a league mandated minimum salary.  So you say, "Dan Dickau shot the ball pretty well."  Yes, yes he did.  He shot 4 for 8.  And the guy he was guarding, Aaron Brooks, shot 7 for 9.  And when they put someone else on Brooks and put Dickau on Luther Head, Head became the focal point of the Rockets offense.  Dickau is never going to be a great defender, but some night's he does OK.  Last night he was a train wreck.  Thornton was 4 for 13 with 5 fouls and ONE (!) rebound.  Ross and Knight, the Clippers starting backcourt, were a combined 0 for 8 with 1 point scored.  (By the way, the one point was when Knight sank a Technical free throw, which means that they combined for exactly as many points as I would have scored if 45 year old bloggers were allowed to take Technical free throws.)  

And not that it really matters, but why exactly did the Clippers bother to sign Marcus Williams?  Down double figures the entire game, with the starting small forward in the locker room, the backup in foul trouble and the Clippers getting KILLED on the boards (to the tune of 51-33 on the game), MDsr went with Cat at the 3 and Smush at the 2 for 16 minutes.  Why is Williams here - what exactly is the point - if he can't get into THAT game?

These next two home games - Denver and the Lakers - happen to be games it would be really nice to win.  Beating Denver would go a long way towards keeping them out of the playoffs, and I think most of ClipsNation roots for Golden State over the Nuggets - certainly I do.  And of course a win against the Lakers is always good, and would avoid the season sweep.  But there's simply no way - NO EFFING WAY - this group can win either of those games.  Not without Maggette; not without Kaman.  And probably not without a whole new backcourt.