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Cleveland 87 - Clippers 83

Final - 3.10.2009 1 2 3 4 Total
Cleveland Cavaliers 17 17 18 35 87
Los Angeles Clippers 24 24 21 14 83

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It's late and I'm tired. The Clippers don't play again until Saturday in Denver, so we have three full days without a game during which we can brood and stew and analyze to our hearts content. Obviously, blowing a 19 point fourth quarter lead, being outscored 33 to 10 in the final 11 minutes, is not something we're going to easily forget, try as we might.

Without trying to make them particularly coherent, here are some thoughts on the game:

  • If you say "This is a big game, I'm playing" as Milph reported of Marcus Camby and Mardy Collins and others, doesn't that also imply the inverse? That some of these guys could have been playing in games they missed but the game just wasn't important enough? That's not a good thing.
  • I thought Al Thornton played one of his best games. 20 points and 9 rebounds, plus tough defense on LeBron all night. Seven of his eight field goals were right at the rim, and the eighth was a clutch three that recaptured the lead in the final seconds.
  • Chris Kaman looked bad... but mostly in a, rusty, no confidence sort of way. He didn't look lethargic or out of shape. But he was Mr. Flippy, getting at least three shots blocked when he didn't go particularly strong to the basket, and at the end he just didn't want the ball. The turnover he made just inside the 2 minute mark was just brutal. With a brand new shot clock and still clinging to a 3 point lead, he found himself with the ball and he basically panicked. In his desperation to get it to someone else, he threw a ridiculous cross court pass. Cleveland tied the game with a three, and then Kaman turned the ball away AGAIN on the next possession. He should not have been in the game done the stretch.
  • The Clippers turned the ball over on 4 out of 5 possessions during a 3 minute stretch from 3:30 to 30 seconds left. When the Cavs turned up the defensive intensity, LA folded. (The charge on Gordon could obviously have gone either way.)
  • I thought that call against EJ was a real game changer. The Clippers had gone about 8 minutes without getting a good shot, and that was a good shot. I thought Williams was moving, and clearly Gordon didn't even consider initially that the call was on him. Tough, tough call.
  • The Cavs scored zero of the first 66 points on three pointers, and trailed 76-66. They were 0 for 17 at the time. Then Dain Blanton went and blabbed about it. The immediately made their first three of the game, and scored 11 of their final 21 points on three pointers (3 for 3 shooting, 2 of 3 free throws on a foul). 0 for 17 followed by 3 for 3. I guess you can call it clutch.
  • For three quarters, the Cavs tried to run normal sets to get shots for people, and the Clippers were destroying them. In the fourth quarter, they gave the ball to LeBron and said, 'Do something.' And it worked. The outscored the Clippers 35-14 in the fourth. I must say, it's not my favorite style of basketball, but it's effective. LeBron either scored, or assisted, or hockey assisted (the pass that led to the assist) on every Cleveland field goal in the fourth. Every. Last. One.
  • The Clippers had 3 turnovers in the entire first half. They had 12 in the second half, most of those in the fourth quarter. Given that the shooting percentages were identical (both team were 20 for 25 from the line, both teams made a paltry three threes, both teams shot 39% from the field) it was Clevelands 5 extra shots that ended up being the difference.
  • Why couldn't the Clippers get looks in the fourth? Obviously the Cavs increased their defensive intensity. And I thought the refs let them get away with a lot of physical play in so doing. But why is Baron/Zach pick and pop for a Randolph 20 footer the best they can get for an entire quarter? I thought EJ was on the bench too long for one thing. Then, when he did get back in, the two times they called his number both ended as bad break turnovers - the tough call on the charge, followed by a slip.
  • The Clippers final possession - Zach catching the ball at 35 feet and shooting - left much to be desired.
  • If the Clippers hold on to win this game, it's the second signature win against a top Eastern Conference foe after the All Star break. Instead, it's just the umpteenth fourth quarter collapse.

Like I said, I'm sure we'll have much more to say about this game over the next several days. We've got lots of time on our hands.