Today’s game tickets feature the likeness of Jason Williams, who retired before ever playing a game for the franchise. Despite the cognitive dissonance, the Clippers’ current state of affairs has a familiar air. Key players have suffered injuries with no certain timetables for their returns. Marginal pros like Freddie Jones, Mardy Collins, and Jason Hart are seeing meaningful minutes. With the exception of Marcus Camby, the guys left standing for the Clippers appear either disengaged [Baron Davis] or overeager [DeAndre Jordan].
Al Thornton, who has an opportunity to fill the Clippers’ scoring vacuum with Zach Randolph on the shelf, plays an ugly, immature 40 minutes today. At [3rd, 4:58] off a deflection on the Dallas end, the Clippers get out in transition. Al fills the lane on the near wing ahead of Freddie Jones. Jones leads Al with a pretty bounce pass at the arc that Al collects en route to the hole. At full speed as he reaches the paint, Al spins away from Jason Kidd, but toward James Singleton, with Erick Dampier rumbling into the play. As Al goes up for the layup, Dampier appears to draw contact from behind. Al’s shot clanks off the very front of the rim and bounces toward the far side. Al beats Dampier to the ball on the far side. Because the Clips were out on the break, it’s just Thornton and Dampier one-on-one. Whatever foul, assault, or incidental contact may or may not have transpired a second ago, Al could take Dampier right now off the dribble and rectify the miscarriage of justice. But Al’s too busy kvetching to the officials to see that he’s got only a hulking Erick Dampier between him and the basket at 18 feet. Instead of exacting revenge, Al continues to petition the ref as he backs the ball out to the perimeter. Only then does he begin his left-handed dribble drive between two defenders. He ultimately draws the foul and hits both free throws. It’s an amateur display of petulance from guy who should be looking to lead with his team’s two best post scorers out of action.
The Clippers once again get brutalized on the glass, allowing Dallas 14 offensive rebounds, while collecting only 28 on that end of the floor — even as the Mavericks go with only one pure frontcourt player in their starting lineup. Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, and Al Thornton combine for only 11 rebounds. After his commanding block of Jason Terry’s attempted layup in transition about midway through the first quarter, Baron Davis essentially checks out. Over his last nine games, Baron has shot 40% only once.
James Singleton was back at Staples Center, in a Dallas uniform. The Clippers denied Singleton’s third-year option after the 2006-07 season. Singleton spent the 2007-08 season in the Spanish league, winning the ACB title with TAU Cerámica [The Basque are not to be screwed with]. Singleton has logged double-digit minutes in each of the past five games with the Mavs. Given that the Clippers are in dire need of depth on the wing and some perimeter defense, Jumpin’ James would be more indispensible to the Clippers today than he ever was during his two-year stint in Los Angeles.