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New Orleans 110 - Clippers 102 - A Lackluster Effort

Here's all you need to know about this game.  Coming in, the Hornets were the third worst rebounding team in the league by differential at -5.6.  Only Golden State and New York were worse.  Yet they outrebounded the Clippers by 15, 51 to 36, and 19 to 11 on the offensive glass.  To put that further into perspective, the Hornets got 19 offensive rebounds, while the Clippers got 25 defensive rebounds.  Meaning that when New Orleans missed a shot, they got the ball back for another try over 43% of the time.  Aside from Marcus Camby who had 11 defensive boards, no other Clipper had more than 3 rebounds on the defensive end.  But David West had 6 offensive rebounds and Emeka Okafor had 5.  So West and Okafor each had more offensive rebounds than Chris Kaman had defensive rebounds, despite the fact that Kaman is (a) bigger and (b) supposed to be able to establish inside position by virtue of being on defense.

The extra possessions turned into 12 extra free throws, from whence the Hornets outscored the Clippers by 11.  And that was the ball game.  The Hornets maintained the lead between 3 and 14 points from late in the first quarter until the end and won 110-102.  The Clippers never led.

Final - 11.17.2009 1 2 3 4 Total
Los Angeles Clippers 22 31 22 27 102
New Orleans Hornets 29 29 26 26 110

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It's hard to imagine losing wire-to-wire to the Hornets without Chris Paul, but one imaginative way would be to simply not rebound.

For all the raving everyone has been doing about Kaman's scoring this season, there's also a dirty little secret to his performance so far: he's rebounding at a career low level.  During his Kaman 2.0 breakout season two years ago, he averaged 12.3 rebounds per 36 minutes.  In the 05-06 playoff season, he averaged 10.5.  He has never in his career averaged fewer than 9 rebounds per 36 minutes for a season.  He is averaging 8.4 per 36 right after tonight.  Now, I've heard it said that his rebounding is down because his offense is up.  He now has a face up game, which pulls him further away from the basket, and besides it's much harder rebounding your own miss than rebounding someone else's.  That's all true; and it would explain a decrease in offensive rebounding.  But guess what?  Kaman's defensive rebounding average of 6.2 per 36 minutes is also a career low.  So I guess the next reason is that there are fewer rebounds available playing next to Marcus Camby.  And that's true to a point as well - it might explain a drop off versus 07-08.  But in 05-06 Kaman was playing next to a pretty decent rebounder whose name escapes me and he averaged almost 8 defensive boards per 36.  So Camby doesn't really explain it either.  Besides, I'm not asking him to get rebounds away from Camby - but I would like him to get them away from West and Okafor. 

Is it possible that Kaman is pulling a Kobe on us?  Loafing on the defensive end so that he can save his energy for scoring points?  Not to put everything here on Kaman, but his rebounding deserves more scrutiny, which I hope to be able to do soon.

The shame of tonight is that Al Thornton had by far his best game of the season, and indeed his best game in a very long time, scoring 30 points on 12 for 17 shooting - but no one else provided much help.  Baron had a terrible shooting night until the game was already out of reach - he was 0 for 7 from three point range before making 3 'too little too late' shots in the final minutes.  Kaman shot 8 for 18 and only got to the line once, putting him at less than a point a shot which is way off his efficiency level to date on the season.  No one on the team aside from Thornton had a good game.

As for bad games, check out Sebastian Telfair's plus/minus.  In fewer than 9 minutes of playing time, Bassy was -17.  That's a lot of points in an 8 point game.  I honestly don't remember Telfair looking terrible - I may have to go back to the DVR to see what he did wrong - but for every minute that Bassy was on the floor, New Orleans scored two points more than the Clippers.  Ouch.

So just like last week when the Clippers were on a three game winning streak and the Hornets were struggling, New Orleans has once again beaten LA, although they seem incapable of beating anyone else.  It runs the Hornets' win streak over the Clippers to eleven.  Given how they've played against everyone else lately, they must have loved to see the Clippers coming to town.

A couple quick notes to close:

  • Kareem Rush left the game in the second quarter after his knee appeared to buckle inward on a move to the basket.  Usually season ending injuries are reserved for the marquee Clippers, but Paul Davis will tell you not always.  X-rays were negative, but of course ligament damage wouldn't show up on an x-ray.  [Note by Steve Perrin, 11/17/09 10:42 PM PST ]:  I was writing this recap when I should have been reading Twitter.  Lisa Dillman tweets that indeed Rush has a torn ACL.  I thought it was strange that Milph called the x-ray results good news - it wasn't like he broke his leg.  It looked exactly like an ACL injury to me, and that's what it was, but you have to have an MRI to know that.  Tough, tough break for KRush, who made the team in the 15th slot when no one thought he would, and who had just started getting some serious burn.
  • There was a strange play in the third quarter which happily did not end up affecting the outcome.  Baron Davis was at the line for a free throw, which he appeared to miss.  However the ref whistled a goal tending violation, pointed at Okafor and clearly signaled basket good - but the point never went on the board.  Now, there appeared to be a subsequent conversation, and from the look on Okafor's face (which is where the camera was trained) it seemed that possibly the call had been changed.  And in the play by play, it reads as a basket interference on Camby.  But if that was the call, it was never explained to Milph and therefore not to us watching at home.  Like I said, the point wouldn't really have mattered - but from the replay it certainly appeared as if the original call was correct - if it was touched on the rim, it was Okafor who did the touching, as Camby clearly came in later after it was off the rim.