Want to achieve posterity at the Elias Sports Bureau? Here’s a formula for you:
Schedule back-to-back games against a team whose frontcourt consists of Shaquille O’Neal and Amare Stoudemire. Suit up only one big man — a 20-year-old rookie drafted in the second round.
Whatever overarching philosophy the Phoenix Suns are employing during their Gentry Reboot, it runs second tonight to a single offensive goal — abuse the Stoudemire-Thornton mismatch unmercifully.
In the game’s first six minutes, Stoudemire beats an undersized Thornton…
- In the left post with a running right-handed hook over his left shoulder [1st, 10:24]
- On a pretty S/R with Steve Nash, where Amare slips the screen, splits the defenders, then catches a pinpoint bounce pass from Nash en route to the hole, before going up for the slam [1st, 9:42]
- Again in the left post — this time with a baseline spin and nifty seal for a layup attempt that misses. Amare collects the ball and throws in the hook. [1st, 9:02]
- On a deep pick and roll — this time with Grant Hill — where Amare gets under the defenders, catches the easy lob pass from Hill, then slams it home. [1st, 8:35]
- Working off the dribble from left elbow, aided by a solid screen from Steve Nash [1st, 6:33]
You can’t really fault Al, or the help, or the coaching even. This is a cosmic loss. Al does the only thing he can do — try to cancel out Stoudemire on the other end. Thornton leads all scores in the first quarter with 14 on a whopping 13 shots and a pair of FTs. Most of the jump shots are fairly clean looks.
In fact, the Clippers have one of their better offensive games of the year, even before temps d’ordures. They turn the ball over only seven times. Eric Gordon works his way to the line for 13 attempts, turning a 5-12 night from the field into an efficient outing [64.9% TS]. The six dimes, five boards, and only one turnover are nice to see.
Ultimately, the Clippers allow that Stoudemire-Thornton mismatch — and their size disadvantage in general — to bleed into every facet of their defensive game. They’re so worried about Stoudemire at every moment that they begin to slough off the perimeter out of fear of getting beat inside, or they intuitively cheat a step toward Amare, even with Steve Nash coming down the lane at full speed. The Clippers are completely outmatched in the paint, even when they exert 100% effort. DeAndre Jordan deserves an attendance award just for showing up.
At least it won’t be forgotten.
[Image courtesy of ESPN.com]