|Final - 3.17.2009
|Los Angeles Clippers
|Golden State Warriors
Coach Mike Dunleavy of the Clippers has been saying all year that all the Clippers need is to get healthy. But here's the problem with putting so much emphasis on how the team plays in the final month of the season: what happens if the healthy Clippers lose to a 23 win team missing three starters? Then what?
The Warriors are a freaky team, and they made a ton of jump shots tonight. At one point in the first quarter, Golden State was shooting 63% and LA was shooting 33% - and yet the Clippers were ahead. The shooting percentages evened out, but so did the turnovers. And it's just hard to beat a team when you let them shoot almost 54% to your 41%.
As I suspected, we'll have to wait a little longer for the '96 minutes of bigs' experiment. Because of the pace of the game, MDsr actually only played the trio of Randolph, Kaman and Camby a total of 72 minutes - meaning that half of the game he only had one of them in. It's understandable, but one does wonder why the Clippers always react to what the opposition is doing, rather than pushing them to react. It's not like the strategy they've been using is really working. Kaman sat the final 15 minutes of the contest, but at least he should be fresh for tomorrow night.
Unfortunately, the Clippers wasted strong games from Baron Davis (29 points and 7 assists) and Al Thornton (25 points and 9 rebounds) who each shot better than 50%. So someone else must have been dragging down the team's percentage, right? Right. In fact, both Fred Jones (0 for 6) and Eric Gordon (1 for 8) had their worst games of the season. Gordon couldn't get anything to fall, and for the first time in his rookie year, we could see him getting frustrated and trying to do too much. One a possession in the fourth, he went behind his back, through his legs, crossed over a couple of times, got caught in the air and traveled. It's the kid of game that rookies have - only he hadn't had one of them before tonight. He even fouled out. (Amazingly, he went 8 for 8 from the line and still made it to double figures. The only game since Christmas where he did not score in double figures was the Boston game he left with a bruised shoulder.
And if a few key Clippers were ice cold, a few key Warriors were red hot. Three different Dubs players made two thirds of their shots - Monta Ellis (13 for 19), Anthony Morrow (8 for 12) and Anthony Randolph (6 for 9). The game boils down to putting the ball in the basket, and these guys were doing it. Ellis looked to be all the way back in this game. He is something special - he's so quick, he is a great finisher, and he appears to have added a consistent mid range jumper.
You can't evaluate anything based on one game. And the Warriors are the wrong team to try to figure stuff out against at any rate. And Eric Gordon had a terrible game, as did his backup, which hurt the Clippers chances greatly.
But on paper, with Stephen Jackson, Andris Biedrins and Jamal Crawford out, that's a tough one to lose.