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Sacramento 103 - Clippers 89 - You Had a Feeling This Would Happen

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First of all, judging by the paltry 25 comments on the game thread, seems like most everyone had better things to do on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with eight Sweet 16 spots being decided.  Good. 

I myself was at the Huntington with the family, wandering around the gardens, admiring the art.  The kids acted as if we were torturing them, but every once in awhile you have to get out and do something around town. 

As for the game, I'm sure that most of you had the exact same reaction I did when you found out that Tyreke Evans wasn't playing:  uh-oh.  During afternoon games the Clippers tend to be lackadaisical anyway.  The absence of the best player from a poor team pretty much guaranteed that they'd come out flat as pancakes.  Which they did.

Watching the game, I figured I knew what the plus/minus would look like for the Clippers in the box score.  Kaman's would be the worst.  All of the starters would have double digits minus numbers.  All of the subs would be positive.  I was right almost across the board - DeAndre Jordan finished minus 3 because he played enough minutes with the other starters in the fourth quarter to drag him down.

Plus/minus, as we point out almost any time we refer to it, is an inexact tool.  But I think we can all agree that something is seriously amiss when the team's leading scorer, a guy who made the all star team this year, is minus 19 in 32 minutes in a 13 point loss to the fourth worst team in basketball playing without their leading scorer. 

The fact that Evans was missing might have seemed to the uninitiated to be a bad thing for Sacramento.  But citizens of Clips Nation knew better, for two reasons.  One, the Clippers are always at their worst when the opponent is supposedly undermanned, because LA's single biggest problem is a lack of focus, and if they take the opponent lightly it becomes acute.  Secondly, Tyreke's absence merely meant that Clipper-killers Beno Udrih and Carl Landry would handle the ball and take the shots.  And that's exactly what happened.

We all know that Beno Udrih set his career high in scoring against the Clippers in LA about 15 months ago.  Well, tonight, in the same building, he crushed his career high in assists with 17, in addition to scoring 20 points (his previous career high was 13).  Think about it - the guy has now started five games for the Kings in LA against the Clippers, and he has scored, 18, 25, 30 and now 20 in four of them.  He's also had arguably the two best games of his career in those games, with two different career highs.

Meanwhile, Landry just continues to own the Clippers, scoring 24 points on 11 for 14 shooting tonight.  He torched either Kaman or Drew Gooden when they were on him. 

But Landry's performance actually contains the one positive bit of news from this game.  DeAndre Jordan appears to be figuring it out.  I don't know if I care enough to parse the game flow for this, but from observation, I believe that Jordan actually shut Landry down when he was guarding him.  I know he drew two offensive fouls, and forced another travel.  On several possessions against Landry, DJ played what has to be described as terrific on ball defense against a very good scorer.  This is the most encouraging development I've seen from DeAndre this season frankly.  I am confident that he can rebound and block shots (7 and 1 tonight in 24 minutes) and he'll finish plays around the rim (4 for 5 tonight) - but I've never felt like he looked good playing on ball defense.  If he's getting that figured out, he can play center in this league.

If he'd been the center tonight, the Clippers might have actually won.