This games warrants a close look, and we’ll do that later when the Clippers broadcast emerges from its wormhole 90 minutes behind the rest of the universe.
This is an odd game in which the gutsiness pendulum swings wildly. On one hand, an Indiana team minus Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Marquis Daniels — not to mention Mike Dunleavy — has no business competing against The Most Talented 7-18 Team In The League™. But the Clippers, down 94-90 with only 0:31.1 to play in regulation, have to mount an improbable comeback to survive.
Executing a comeback down a few points in the closing minutes of a game is more of a science than an art. It requires a decidedly unclipper brand of precision. After squandering their own four point lead in the waning seconds of regulation Wednesday night, the Clippers orchestrate a miracle of their own:
- The Clippers work a high Davis/Randolph screen and roll that allows Baron to sweep left and penetrate with Ford trailing behind the play. Baron executes this beautifully: Nesterovic steps up off the weak side block to challenge Baron, which means Camby is left wide open. Baron lobs Camby a pass, which Marcus lays up and in. Only eight seconds expire. Baron hasn’t shot the ball worth a damn this season, but when he can finesse a quick score in a crucial halfcourt set, he’s at his best. Indiana 94, Clippers 92
- Jarrett Jack is immediately fouled, but the 82% FT shooter misses one of two. Indiana 95, Clippers 92.
- Another do-or-die possession for the Clips, and they have to be quick. 0:19.6 remaining. Simply put, this is an ingenious set, one for the vault: The inbound is on the near side. EJ actually begins the set on the near side block.  Part One: A down screen from Camby that gives EJ a zipper cut from the low block to the elbow.  Part Two: As EJ makes a left turn at the arc, Zach Randolph runs a little interference that slows up Jack and allows EJ a little separation as he makes another left to dive for the hoop. Eric Gordon is a like a racecar making a series of left turns.  Part Three and the coup de grace. A gorgeous lob pass from the sideline from Baron Davis that EJ catches about five feet from the basket. EJ kisses it off the glass for a layup. And it all happens in 1.8 seconds. Indiana 95, Clippers 94.
- Quick foul. Jack hits both. Indiana 97, Clippers 94.
- 0:16.5 remaining…but no timeouts. This possession is more reminiscent of the chaos that’s reigned at the end of games. Baron brings it up the right side as Randolph, Thornton, and Gordon set up along the arc. The Clips need a three. The ball works its way around the perimeter, and ultimately ends up in Al’s hands. What happens next is incredible. Brandon Rush passively plays off Al, and gives him just enough room to fire a 3PA. It’s good. Indiana 97, Clippers 97.
To be continued tomorrow. A couple of general observations:
- I never thought such words would ever be written but…Zach Randolph needs to be less eager to pass.
- Does a fan really draw a technical foul behind the Indiana bench?
- In the first half, the Clippers’ wings accumulate a total of one rebound. When trying to figure out how a team with the Clippers’ talent can be done one at the half against a team that plays Brandon Rush for 54 minutes, you can start there.
- Mike Taylor fractures his right thumb in the first half. Update forthcoming.
- We’ll look at the overtime periods tomorrow, but I like that the Clips went into Al Thornton in the post in the second overtime against Brandon Rush. The Clippers woes offensively can be attributed, in some part, to not exploiting advantageous matchups in the halfcourt. Thornton/Rush down on the box is one of them, and the Clippers are rewarded for their recognition.