|Final - 3.4.2009
|Los Angeles Clippers
I see little point in overanalyzing this game. Although their defense was abysmal throughout, the Clippers played well enough on the attack to be competitive for about two-thirds of the game, and had a five point lead with 4 minutes left in the third. But the Grizzlies closed the quarter on an 18-2 run (fueled mostly by Clipper turnovers), and closed the game outscoring LA by 28 in the final 16 minutes, 51-23 - they scored 51 points in 16 minutes! This is all somewhat to be expected given that the Clippers started the game without three of their top six players (Zach Randolph in Indiana with his family, Eric Gordon with a bruised shoulder, and Chris Kaman with his mystical foot) and lost a fourth after the first quarter when Marcus Camby left the game with a migraine.
So I'm just going to go straight to the random stuff -
- TrueHoop posted an excellent series on traveling today. As you know, this is something of a peeve of mine, as indeed it is for many people. It was interesting that Henry Abbott got Joe Borgia, the NBA VP of Ref Ops to admit "We really don't reference the rulebook". That's bad enough - I don't like it, but I could live with it - if they were consistent. In this game, the officials failed to call a travel on Baron Davis early in the first quarter in which he simply took three steps - nothing deceptive, no spins, no pivot foot hop, no crab dribble - just 1-2-3 steps going for the layup. They called a foul in the middle - this was the play on which Mike Conley's face connected with Baron's elbow and Conley left the game pretty bloody - but that's not relevant. There's no way the basket should have counted - just because there's a foul, doesn't mean you're allowed to travel. BUT, the most amazing thing is that they DID call a travel on Baron on the opening possession of the second half that clearly was NOT a violation. I watched it about six times, and it was legal under any set of rules, not just the wacky NBA rules. That's what I really just can't comprehend. They allow players to get away with much more than the rule book stipulates, more than any other organized basketball league in the world, that much is true. But then they can't even be consistent in their incorrectness.
- We saw former Clipper Quinton Ross in some unfamiliar situations tonight. On his first touch, he took a pull up jumper off the dribble - I did a double take when I realized it was Q, since I don't think I saw him do that ever in four season in LA. A few possessions later, he drilled a three - and not that baby corner three either, a left wing, full grown 23'9" three. And with Conley at the dentist, Kyle Lowry in Houston and Javaris Crittenton in Washington, we saw Quinton Ross play some point guard for Memphis. What the...? It made for some interesting moments. After he made the three, MDsr said something to him that made him laugh - probably along the lines of "How come you never made that shot for me?" The coach got him back though - when he realized that Ross was bringing the ball up court the first time, MDsr yelled for Baron to pick up full court, resulting in a Ross turnover, given that ballhandling was never really his forte.
- Speaking of Ross, how strange is it that he comes back to play against his old team, the team he was with only last season, and there's only one former teammate on the court for LA? Al Thornton is the only Clipper who was in uniform tonight who played with Quinton Ross in LA. Ross has as many Clipper teammates on his Grizzlies team as there are on the Clippers. After the game he was looking for guys to hug, he got Al and... that was it. He walked off the court.
- Rudy Gay is all world against the Clippers. After scoring 35 in this game (including 20 in the third quarter when they broke it open) he's now averaging almost 29 against the Clippers this season. He averages 18.5 overall.
- Mike Taylor's jam in the second quarter made me gasp. Early in the season, it seemed foolish the number of times he tried to dunk and missed - he kept trying to jam in difficult to impossible situations. I kept wondering what he was thinking. Well, now I know. He wanted to make me gasp. Well played sir.
- During the second quarter Rudy Gay lost Mardy Collins and ran smack into Marc Gasol. Gay threw the ball at the basket on the collision and it went in - and the whistle blew. The referees called a foul. But there wasn't a Clipper anywhere near Gay - Collins had been left behind, and no one had come to help. He was certainly fouled - by his own teammate. Milph were doing something else at the time (I think the Dain Blanton interview with Eric Gordon was wrapping up) and didn't seem to notice. They gave the foul to Collins.
- Milph got a little carried away with their "best two picks of the second round" talk (they completely failed to mention Mario Chalmers, who's only starting for a playoff team in Miami), but DeAndre Jordan and Mike Taylor are certainly intriquing. They both seem to have absolutely limitless potential. Jordan had 9 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks tonight - but he really needs to do a better job of finishing his and-ones around the basket, especially if he's going to struggle from the line so much. And Taylor had the aforementioned dunk and several other nifty moves going to the basket on his way to a career high 15 points and 4 assists in 28 minutes. If he can add a consistent jump shot, he's going to be very, very difficult to defend. Oh and like DJ, he needs to work on his free throw shooting - 3 for 6 tonight, 62% for the season. A big part of his value lies in getting into the middle and drawing fouls - but if he can't make the free throws, what's the point.
- Not that it made a difference in the end, but the Clippers shot just 19 for 33 from the line tonight. Of course, if your best free throw shooter doesn't play (Eric Gordon, 86%) and one of the worst free throw shooters in the league is forced by injuries to play 34 minutes and shoots 8 free throws, it's going to have an impact.
- For what it's worth, in the game in Memphis last month, the Clippers three leading scorers were Zach Randolph (35), Ricky Davis (24) and Eric Gordon (23). Camby scored 7, and led the team in rebounding with 11, followed by Zach with 10. That's 89 points and 21 rebounds right there. So no wonder the outcome was a little different.
I'm tired of watching the injury riddled Clippers go into games completely outmanned. I'm really looking forward to the All Star break, so the team can get their players back. What's that you say? We're past the All Star break? We're in March? Well, wasn't the team supposed to be 100% by now? What are they doing playing with nine guys still? Oh, and remember how Ralph had set Kaman's target game for Tuesday against Cleveland? It's now next Saturday in Denver. And frankly, that makes no sense with another game the next day back here in LA. Why make Kaman play at altitude on the road in the first game of a back to back after he's missed 49 straight games? Make it an even 50 and let him come back against the Nets next Sunday.