The Back Story:
- First meeting of the season. The Suns swept the season series last year.
I'm at the game tonight, will have my laptop on press row. It's in section 115, IIRC, so get my attention and say hi if you're Staples. I'm wearing an orange shirt tonight. Just realized that the Suns are orange. Ooops. It was really more of a fall thing, what with the cold day today.
Unfortunately, the NBA has imposed some funny rules about live blogging; so I'll be on the thread, but I'm not allowed to be super active. In theory. We'll see.
Speaking of the thread, now that the community is growing, we may have to make some modifications. We had over 500 comments last night for the Lakers game. I'm told by some of the big boy bloggers that the threads start to bog down at some point if you get too many comments. So, I'll be monitoring it tonight, and if we get to 500 comments, I'll post an overflow thread. Just be aware. If you find yourself suddenly alone in the original thread, it may be that everyone has moved to the new thread.
Enough house keeping.
The last minute pre-game report is that Baron Davis and Marcus Camby are playing - no ill-effects from last night.
Alvin Gentry went out of his way to praise the Clippers in his pre-game time with the media, singling out Eric Gordon as an underrated player. He was asking why it was the Gordon seemed to get so little recognition last season as opposed to some of the other rookies in that class. I wanted to scream "Amen" but thought better of it, this being my first real live NBA game and all. I mean, none of the other reporters yelled "Amen", so maybe it's not done.
First Quarter Notes:
You couldn't ask for a better start on offense. The Clippers made their first four shots, and scored 19 points in the first seven minutes, taking a 19-13 lead into the first timeout. You COULD however ask for better defense. The Suns have been getting a lot of good looks as well. But the Clippers are killing them on the boards early, which is to be expected (Gentry was very worried about that before the game).
The Clippers passing is much improved. Kaman and Camby are both very good playmakers for guys their size. Camby actually looks for Kaman a little too much - tries to force things some times - but it's nice to have bigs looking for each other. And it's nice to have a power forward who can lead the break as he did late in the quarter.
Eric Gordon is also a nice playmaker. His assist to Camby in the showed great vision. He saw Kaman under the basket, looked at him, and when the defender went to take that lane, he went to Camby on the baseline instead. It was very deceptive - at least it deceived me.
Learning from his mistake last night, MDsr played subbed Butler for Thornton at the three, brought Craig Smith in the first when he rested Kaman.
First quarter score: 31-24, with an extra point coming from a EJ three.
Second Quarter Notes:
So much for the Clippers huge advantage on the bench. Also, so much for the no Al Thornton at the PF plan. Clippers open the quarter with Smith and Thornton, Butler, Rush and Telfair. Although neither teamed looked particularly good during this stretch, the Suns managed to overtake the Clippers.
Someone mentioned it yesterday, and it's even more true today. The team's best player right now is a 36 year old who will be a free agent this summer. Marcus Camby has 4 blocks by my count, not to mention 18 points (including a highlight reel alley oop) in the first half. Holy crap.
We've been talking about plus/minus lately - Steve Nash's is going to be terrible for the first half. The Suns took the lead with Dragic on the floor - lost it immediately when Nash returned. Immediately.
The NBA.com writer next to me and I are talking about how Nash is showing his age, while Camby is decidedly not. Oh, and Grant Hill is looking great also. Thornton has been having trouble with him, so MDsr went to Butler - and Hill schooled him too.
As we saw last night, Eric Gordon is important to this team. They're just a lot better with him on the floor. Turns out, the kid's really, really good. Just ask Alvin Gentry. He's got five first half assists. I wonder what his career high is.
The Clippers are shooting 56 percent. So why don't they have a big lead? Well, because the Suns are outrebounding them. At one point the Clippers were ahead 9-5 in rebounding. Since then it's been 17-6 Suns. There's really no excuse for that, but that's exactly how you lose a lead while shooting over 60%. Exactly how.
Oh, and also you should miss six free throws.
Halftime score: 53-53.
Halftime entertainment: hypnotist. Man do I hate hypnotists. A hypnotist killed my cat, in a birthday party gone awry. I just made that up. But I really do I hate hypnotists.
Some quick first half plus/minus numbers. Steve Nash -11. Baron Davis +12. Earl Clark +13. Clark and Dudley, with 5 rebounds each, turned the tide on the boards.
Third quarter notes:
Kaman had one rebound in the first half, after getting 16 last night against a much bigger opponent. Think he got yelled at halftime? Seems like it worked. He grabbed the first three defensive rebounds of the second half, and fought hard for an offensive board early also. He finished with 5 rebounds in the third quarter after getting 1 in the first half. The entire team turned the rebounding switch back on, and frankly so far the game has hinged on the boards. Whichever team is winning the boards, is winning this game.
Remember what I said about Kaman 2.0. I'll put it in Biblical terms: "And ye shall know him by his defensive rebounding." Always remember that.
It's a funny game though. Clippers open the second half missing 2 of 4 free throws, and Phoenix makes a three on a broken play. Clippers build a double digit lead in the middle of the quarter, only to have a let down in the end, and it's back to two going into the fourth.
Channing Frye is an interesting big for this Suns team. They clearly have told him to take that 18 footer. And in theory he's capable of making it. But it's not really falling in this game, and if he's not making that shot, what's he doing for you? He's 3 for 9 through three quarters. Based on this game, it's hard to imagine that Earl Clark won't be starting before long.
The play at seven minutes in the quarter is classic Baron. After a mad scramble for the ball, where it looked like there should have been a jump ball, but the Suns came away, Baron then came up with the steal. He set his feet behid the line and shot the three. That's what he did at Golden State - it's a 'big moment' play. The steal gives your team some momentum - if you add a three, it's huge. But it's a terrible shot if you miss it. He made it, and the Clippers started rolling. You've got to take the good with the bad. It's a high risk / high reward shot. He didn't make it much last season. But he likes taking it. And you gotta like his confidence.
Through three quarters, Amare has taken 6 shots - mostly jumpers. As was the case when he returned from microfracture surgery three seasons ago, he just doesn't have the explosiveness right now. Of course, this was an eye injury, not a leg, so at some level you think it shouldn't affect him. But because of the fragility of the retina, it's my understanding that his activity was severely restricted, so he just hasn't been able to stay in the same shape. His jumper looks pure though.
After Rasual Butler missed a technical free throw, the Clippers were 14 for 24 from the line... 28 for 47 from the field. When a player like Shaq or DeAndre Jordan shoots better from the field than the line, it's one thing. I don't know if I've ever seen it happen with a team.
Through three, Baron +19, Nash -18.
Clippers lead 79-77.
Fourth Quarter Notes:
Just a fun aside, the look on Bassy's face was classic after they whistled him for a foul on Dragic on what looked like a clean block. I don't know if the camera angle caught it - I happened to be looking right at him.
OK, I think I'll start working on a recap. Still figuring out the best way to work efficiently here. So far, I kind of miss just being a fan. I guess I get to do that when they're on the road.