There’s a lot that’s heartening — pre-Millsap in the 4th, when the Clippers let the game slip away. The Clippers convert their final bucket from the floor at 7:58 in the 4th, when Baron Davis banks a FG off the glass coming around a thick screen from Marcus Camby that pancakes Brevin Knight. After that, they never get closer than seven. But the first 36 minutes offer some small victories.
When Marcus Camby checks in at 4:22 in the 1st, the Clippers take the floor with their projected starting five for the first time this season. The first possession ends sorta unceremoniously when Davis throws the ball into Ronnie Brewer’s hands before he even brings it across half-court. The next time down, Davis launches a contested 3PA. But after that, things settle down and the Clippers resemble something that could potentially evolve into a decent NBA team. Mobley ends up with a wide open 3PA on an assertive drive-and-kick by Baron Davis. Cat nails the shot. There’s nothing graceful about Davis’ penetration. His drives are always more functional than anything else. But he creates open shots for teammates — and has a sick ability to get the ball to them when he wants to.
Chris Kaman has his best night in ages — the five turnovers notwithstanding. He’s decisive and alert, finishing the night 9-12 from the floor. Though Kaman plays most of the night alongside Tim Thomas in the frontcourt, we get a glimpse of what Kaman and Camby look like on the floor together. There’s a possession at about 4:00 in the 3rd quarter. It’s a well-drawn set. The ball starts up high on the left wing with Al Thornton. He gets a high screen from Kaman, off which he weaves right along the perimeter. Meanwhile, Baron Davis has moved in the paint to set a screen on Carlos Boozer, as Kaman moves off the first screen. Davis sends Boozer under the screen, which buys Kaman enough time to get great position on the right block. The ball quickly swings from Thornton to Cat Mobley, who sends it into Kaman just as he arrives at his spot. Kaman doesn’t screw around. He lowers his head and his right shoulder and barrels with a hard left-handed dribble into the lane. He doesn’t stop until he gets to four feet, at which point he forces his way up, gets hit, but nails the shot.
Don’t think, Meat. Just pitch.
The Clippers play far and away their best defensive game. There are some stellar possessions at the end of the first half when Camby lords over the paint, making sure there are no good looks inside of ten feet for the Jazz. It was if the Clippers realized from Saturday night that — with the possible exception of Boozer in the post — the Jazz don’t have any single offensive player that can’t be covered one-on-one. You don’t have to guard them so much as you have to guard space. The Clippers seem much more spatially attuned tonight — playing strong man-to-man, but almost thinking zone, which is the best way to defend a motion team. Where the Clips get killed is on the glass and on loose balls.
Mike Taylor gets the start, though he appears a little too eager at the outset, forcing a couple of shots — one very early in the shot clock.
Don’t you sort of get the impression that the Ricky Davis Experiment is going to end like the Ruben Patterson Experiment? Though they’re entirely different players, the vibe feels the same.