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Portland 116 - Clippers 87

Final - 2.22.2009 1 2 3 4 Total
Los Angeles Clippers 16 23 29 19 87
Portland Trail Blazers 38 27 27 24 116

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Never, ever let yourself say "It can't get any worse." Because it can. It can always get worse citizens.

After playing a couple of games with so few big players that they were forced to start Al Thornton at power forward, at least they didn't have to do that again. Since Al also sat out this game.

I blame myself. Each of my last two posts before the game contributed, in their own small ways, to Al missing the game. For one thing, I pointed out that Thornton had yet to miss a game in a brief post on Saturday night. Then, in the game preview, I lobbied for Steve Novak to get the start at power forward. Well, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. I really meant for Novak to start next to Al, not instead of him. So that's my bad.

For the record, that makes Chris Kaman (strained arch), Marcus Camby (punctured ear drum), Zach Randolph (suspension), Brian Skinner (strained achilles) and Thornton who sat out the game in Portland. As ludicrous as the Clippers' bench has looked a couple of times this season when they played with the NBA minimum 8 players in uniform and therefore had only three bodies on the bench, it might have been even more surreal tonight. The Clippers five avaiable subs were all point guards! Six of the ten available players are point guards, due in large part to the fact that the team has suffered so many injuries previously at that spot that FIVE of them have started for the team this season. But with the return of Mike Taylor tonight, all six of them are now healthy and available. It's the big men's turn to all get hurt at once. Sheesh.

There's not much to say about the game. Frankly, I've only watched the first quarter so far. I may force myself to watch some more tomorrow, just to see how DeAndre Jordon looks. He finished the game with an impressive 15 points and 12 rebounds, and even made more than half his free throws (nothing to be proud of in most cases, but a huge improvement for DJ). But he was invisible in the first quarter, so he must have done something the rest of the way. Baron Davis played through a toe injury to finish 6 for 12, which is an almost unheard of shooting night for him, but it does keep alive his streak of not shooting better than 50% from the field. He hasn't topped 50% since last March 12, so he's only about three weeks away from making it a full year.

For the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge went 9 for 10 in the first quarter, and finished with 28, totally going against his reputation for playing down to his competition. And speaking of the first quarter, Blazers point guard Steve Blake had 14 assists, breaking the team record for assists in a quarter and assists in a half, and tying the NBA record held by John Lucas for assists in a quarter. But I have a couple quick observations about that. For one thing, there should be an asterisk next to this record, since John Lucas was likely playing against a real NBA defense, whereas the Clippers in the first quarter certainly would not qualify for that description. Secondly, his 14th assist most certainly was not. Blake passed to Rudy Fernandez behind the three point line - Rudy looked at the shot, hesitated, dribbled - TWICE - and finally scored in the lane, about 20 feet away from where he received the pass. That's not an assist. If the NBA can take away LeBron's triple double by saying that he didn't get that rebound, can they take away Blake's record? For John Lucas' sake?

The good news is that there's a reasonable chance that the Clippers will have three starters back tomorrow against the Warriors. Randolph will have completed serving his suspension. Camby is not allowed to fly with his punctured ear drum, but can play basketball in LA if he feels well enough. And Thornton was a game time decision today, so he should in theory be ready soon.