Any Baron Davis-Paul Davis high screen/roll with :18.3 remaining and the Clippers trailing by two will invariably draw a double-team to Baron. That much is certain. Paul Davis is not a threat outside of 15 feet and, besides, it’s safe to assume that Baron will take the final shot even if Paul Davis rolls off the screen to a spot five feet from the basket.
Sure enough, Bobby Jackson and Brad Miller trap Baron with the ball as he moves to his right along the arc. At :06.1, Baron turns the corner and blasts by Jackson. Miller is doing a decent job staying between Baron and the hoop. Looking at this possession a few more times, it appears that Baron has a step on Miller and an opportunity to finish. But Baron now has a wide open Paul Davis at the top of the circle. As he reaches the paint, Baron throws a pinpoint pass across his body to Paul Davis. Bobby Jackson tries to close, but Paul Davis’ right-handed 19-foot jumper is uncontested.
It’s also no good. Sacramento 92, Clippers 90. Final.
Should Baron finish here? It’s a tough call. Paul Davis is shooting 34% from beyond 17 feet this season [12 for 35 FGA], most of the shots uncontested. On the other hand, Baron can’t count on a foul call, and the finish will almost certainly result in contact. Ideally, Baron would have more options on the play. But Sacramento does a nice job of staying at home on both Al Thornton — who’s behind Baron on the strong side wing — and Eric Gordon, who’s cut off from Baron way out on the weak side perimeter.
The last set aside, there’s only so much a team can do when its two primary scorers combine to go 6-29 from the field with only seven FTAs. Thornton misses an open slam with nobody around at [4th, 2:00] in a tie game because he tries to flavor the dunk with a needless double-pump. Al’s game has regressed dramatically over the past couple of weeks and his instincts on both ends of the court have been baffling. Baron’s shot is creaky and imbalanced. He looks awful, though he didn’t appear disinterested as he did against Dallas. The problems tonight are mechanical.
The Clippers open the second quarter with a lineup of Hart-Jones-Collins-P. Davis-Skinner. You know what? Hyphens just don’t do it justice:
PG Jason Hart
SG Freddie Jones
SF Mardy Collins
PF Brian Skinner
C Paul Davis
Incredibly, this unit finishes +1 in its 2:46 of action.
Though all he’ll remember is that final miss, Paul Davis plays a solid game on both ends, working himself five trips to the line by attacking the rim against the soft Sacramento front line. He’s less helpful on the boards and the Clippers, once again, collect fewer than two-thirds of the available rebounds on the defensive end — only 30 defensive boards to the Kings’ 18 offensive rebounds. It’s hard to win basketball games with a DRR of 62.5%. As a frame of reference, the league’s worst defensive rebounding team, Golden State, has a defensive rebounding rate of 67.1%
Eric Gordon is the best story of the night for the Clips. He finishes with 24 points and a true shooting percentage of 78.3%. His massive driving slam at [2nd, 3:02] was ungodly. For a team that was slumbering on the pine, the Clippers’ bench ecstatically jumped up in hysteria when Gordon exploded to the hole.
Until Randolph returns — and until Baron Davis finds his shot — this team is going to have trouble beating anyone. To weather this stretch, continue to watch EJ’s development and see if Thornton can reboot his game.