The Back Story:
- December 13 in Los Angeles - San Antonio 115, Clippers 90 - Recap Box Score
- December 21 in San Antonio - San Antonio 103, Clippers 87 - Recap Box Score
First Quarter Notes:The first 46 seconds of the Kim Hughes era started great, with a 4-0 lead over the Spurs. The next 11 or so minutes - not so well. By the first time out, the game 13-4 Spurs and a few minutes later it was 18-4. The Clippers look discombobulated and confused. Eric Gordon is indecisive and getting schooled on both ends by George Hill - Hill is 4 for 4 for 13 points. They've committed 6 turnovers so far and had a couple of shots blocked. The few times they've actually gotten off a clean shot, it hasn't come particularly close to going in. Are the pressing too hard? Do they not understand the new system? Do they suck?
Wasn't this team supposed to be energized by the coaching change? This is worse than they looked in New Jersey or Minnesota or Cleveland.
Nothing went right. Nothing. One of the few buckets that was going in was waved off when the ref furthest from the play decided that Baron had touched it on the cylinder (I couldn't tell if he did or not).
But the real disappointment was Chris Kaman. He looked disinterested to me. Given Kaman's relationship with Hughes, one would have expected him to be more enthusiastic. I didn't see him go aggressively after one rebound in the first half. Two plays right in front of me I watched him stand flat footed and reach for the ball.
Second Quarter Notes:
The Clippers start the second quarter a little better. Kaman is still out of sorts and picks up a technical to prove the point. But both Mardy Collins and DeAndre Jordan provide some strong play off the bench.
Hughes has said that he'lll use shorter, more intense stints on the floor and so far he's been true to his word. Baron is getting a longer rest than he usually would under MDsr.
One surprise in the substitution pattern is that Craig Smith is the tenth Clipper to take the floor. Hughes goes Kaman-Camby, Jordan-Camby, Kaman-Jordan, Kaman-Smith before Rhino appears. It's not a bad thing, especially if DJ can play well. But a little surprising.
The Spurs have active hands on defense - which I frankly don't remember being a characteristic of theirs. But they are getting their hands on a LOT of balls and the turnovers are killing the Clippers.
Is it a foul to slap a defender's hand away? If it is, it seems to me the refs miss it a lot, and I can't imagine how you miss it, since it happens all the time, and it's you know, right there for everyone to see. So how is it that Mardy Collins got called for that?
Things continue to go badly for the Clippers though. On a terrific defensive series featuring about 4 defelections, the Spurs nonetheless get a couple of possessions after a loose ball foul, and eventually a Tony Parker three after Ricky Davis saves the ball deep with the shot clock running out (they had actually reset the clock, but Parker must not have realized, because he wouldn't have taken the shot if he had known).
At 3:12, Al Thornton gets called for a foul fighting over a screen and tweeks something. He immediately heads to the sideline and continues straight to the locker room with trainer Jasen Powell.
The first half ends with the score 49-27. The 27 is a season low for points in a half. The half time box score is a complete disaster. The Spurs shot 39% - and lead by 22. What a mess.
The Clippers have eight made field goals - eight. You know, I've been taught that you spell out numbers up to twelve, and then use the numerals for 13 and above. Usually you don't spell out the number of field goals made in a half.
But it gets worse. They have 15 first half turnovers. When you have almost double the number of turnovers as the number of made field goals, it's not a good half. It's not even just a bad half. It's about as ugly as pro basketball gets. The Spurs have 20 points off turnovers and the Clippers have 27 points total. The game would be much more competitive if we only counted San Antonio's points off turnovers. Maybe we can put this to the rules committee. Some sort of a Clippers handicap when playing the Spurs.
Third Quarter Notes:
Kim Hughes first halftime pep talk as a head coach apparently left something to be desired. The Spurs reel off an 11-3 run to open the second half just to remind the Clippers how this thing works. Before most of the fans have gotten back from buying beer, the game is 60-30 - a UConn women's team score.
Part of the problem, and I'm not sure how Kim Hughes can do anything about this, is that the Clippers can't shoot. Can. Not. Shoot. To the best of my recollection, no one on the team has made a shot from more than 15 feet. Maybe not that far. Kaman and Baron have both made mid-range jumpers. But neither Gordon nor Butler, ostensibly the perimeter shooters on the team, have made anything other than a layup in this game. The guy shooting for the Commerce Casino shootout during the timeout has made more threes than the Clippers. And it's not all Spurs defense either - Gordon and Butler have each had multiple open looks, and haven't come close. Not close.
Nonetheless, the Clippers actually have a hot shooting third. By my math, they're 14 for 22 in the quarter, on Kaman post moves and Eric Gordon transition drives. Gordon converts three 'and-ones' late in the quarter and the Clippers close the gap to 18, before settling for a 20 point deficit heading into the fourth.
The defense continues to leave wide open three point shooters all over the place. The Clippers shot 63% in the quarter - the Spurs shot 59%, and when you add in the extra points on three point baskets, their eFG was definitely higher. The San Antonio offense on some trips consists of little more than "Hey, you stand in the corner and I'll pass it to you." Which seems to be working pretty well for them.
Fourth Quarter Notes:
In the preview, I mentioned that Tim Duncan had not played a minute in the fourth quarter of a Spurs-Clippers game this season. It doesn't look like that changing tonight. He's played 18 minutes through three - and he's resting up for the Lakers now, thank you very much.
Four minutes into the fourth, it turns into an old-timer's game, as the Spurs bring in Theo Ratliff and Michael Finley. This is going to be fun to watch the rest of the way. Oh wait. No it's not.
It's also likely the end of the night for Baron Davis, which for him is a blessing in disguise. Midway through the third, he tied his career-high of 8 turnovers. Rather than set a new career high of 9, looks like this will go down as the 10th time he's had 8 of them.