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Portland 109 - Clippers 87 - Incoherent

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Watching the Clippers since Kim Hughes took over as coach, one word keeps going through my head - incoherent.  Nothing the team does seems to make any sense.  Now, I'm not necessarily blaming Hughes.  Maybe the players have decided to mail in the rest of the season and can't be bothered to focus on basketball.  Or maybe it is the pain of transitioning to a new coach with a new system.  But I don't think I've seen a cohesive offensive set in the Hughes era.  And the defense is marked by lapses like leaving Juwan Howard all alone under the basket on an inbounds play.  Painful, bewildering basketball that is... well... incoherent.

The Clippers have for awhile been the anti-synergy team, where the sum of the parts is less than the whole.   So what happens when even the parts aren't any good?  In his first game since playing in his first all star game, Chris Kaman went 1 for 6 for 4 points to go along with 7 (SEVEN!) turnovers in 27 minutes.  The other Clipper to have made an all star team, Baron Davis, had 6 points on 3 for 11 shooting and 5 (FIVE!) turnovers in 30 minutes.  So if you're keeping score at home, that's two 'all stars' (making $22.5M between them, FYI), scoring 10 points while shooting 23.5% and committing 12 turnovers.  That would be difficult for any team to overcome.

The funny thing about this game is that I didn't really want to watch it.  I didn't get to start it until almost 11, and I didn't really want to stay up this late.  And then, I couldn't even go as fast through the DVR controls as I wanted to because of all the special guests on the broadcast.  Milph spoke to MDsr, Dain Blanton spoke to Kevin Pritchard, the Milph spoke to Steve Blake.  And even though no one really said anything, I felt like I had to listen.

Milph did give us a shout out of sorts, when they said "Some bloggers and cynical fans have suggested that this trade was just about money."  How dare those bloggers and fans?  GMMDsr explained how nothing could be further from the truth - how the Bird rights to two nice young players are just so super-valuable that you couldn't possibly pass them up.  Of course, he also mentioned the cap space the Clippers will have this summer, failing to elucidate that those two things are mutually exclusive - you can't have the Bird rights of these players AND cap space.  Which tended to make his explanation, somewhat ... what's the word? ... incoherent.  But why quibble?  The point is, the trade was not about money, even if it's not clear what it was about.

Back to the game - the Clippers third brutally difficult to witness effort in four outings - about the only bright spot was the performance of DeAndre Jordan.  He went for a 14-11 double-double in 27 minutes, and also blocked 3 shots.  He was 7 for 8 from the field, with four dunks.  If he could make a free throw, he'd be a pretty good player right now.  All he has to do to be very effective in this league is rebound, block shots, finish around the rim, play solid post defense and make free throws.  He's got the first threee things down pretty well, and there's no reason to think he can't get better at the last two.  Anything else he does - like for instance developing some sort of post game on offense - is just gravy.

On the other end of both the salary and effectiveness spectrum, Baron and Kaman have got to figure out if they're going to play any more this season.  I'm sure it must be hard to get motivated when you know the post-season is out of reach.  But one would hope that some level of professional pride would kick in, and they'd play hard (a) for the fans and (b) because they are paid to do so.  We'll see.  Four games down, 29 to go, and we haven't seen anything worth watching yet.