Playing a 30 win team for the second consecutive night, and playing shorthanded on top of that, the Clippers came within inches of beating the Cavaliers. It's not often you lose a game while shooting 60% from the floor and making 10 threes, but the Clippers seem to find a way to make these sorts of things happen.
Partly because the Clippers rarely missed, the Cavs had nearly as many offensive rebounds (14) as they had defensive rebounds (18). Fittingly, it was an offensive rebound putback by Delonte West that gave the Cavs the lead at the end (at the same time invoking Lawler's Law) at 100-99.
The Clippers got spectacular games from both Rasual Butler and Eric Gordon, who combined to score 61 points. Butler tied his career high with 33, which also happens to be the high scoring game for any Clipper this season.
The Clippers' defense was quite good the entire game (if not their defensive rebounding). Down the stretch, they got several crucial stops to give themselves a chance to win. They had three possessions in the final two minutes down one. Craig Smith rolled clean to the basket at 1:22, but was unable to finish the layup. Then after the Clippers got a steal, the hottest guy in the building, Rasual Butler, missed a 15 footer (his only two point miss of the game). Finally, they got one last chance with 6.7 seconds left. They ran the high pick and roll that they'd been running all night, but the Cavs defended it well and forced Baron Davis into a very tough shot which didn't draw iron.
The sequence of the game may have come a few minutes earlier. Eric Gordon made a tough drive to the basket and LeBron came over to block the shot. Gordon clearly felt he was fouled as did the Clippers bench, but no call was made. Seconds later, the refs sent James to the line on a Ricky Davis touch foul. His two free throws were Cleveland's final points of the game, and proved crucial in their win.
See the Game Thread for my in game thoughts on the game. I'm signing off for now. I may have more on this tomorrow, after I get a chance to review some things on the DVR.