- Clippers are healthy though sans Z-Bo (RIP Z-Bo Dad), and it’s Kaman’s 3rd game back, will he finally show glimpses? This is the team we signed up for, the team the franchise poured money into — as fans we need to see some promise of something resembling .500 ball.
- Nets stumble in to Staples middle of a very unproductive road trip (losers of 3 straight) – will they right the ship? Also a chance to see highly touted rook Lopez — read Hollinger make a strong case for Lopez ROY – http://bit.ly/1b3xJF (you know, I wouldn’t mind having Harris and Lopez as franchise building blocks but without a legit Tier 1 or 2 wing I don’t think this gets you anywhere near a ring in this League).
- Sharp, But Loose – this is how I like to see my team on the offensive end and we saw it in spades Q1.
- Kaman – at the 7 minute mark, Kaman gets the ball low post, in rhythm, shimmying / slicing through the 2 tall trees, leaving Lopez and Yi in the dust – layup. Prettiest moment of the night. Rust is still apparent but Kaman is getting shots in rhythm, in his comfort zone, active around the boards, this is promising. When we get Z-Bo back (which will limit Kaman’s touches and implicitly reduce his turnovers), hopefully we see as free-flowing an offensive scheme as we did tonight.
- Baron – bounce in his step, grinning. He’s a guy who needs to feel good to play hard and win. Nice to see. Even got an alley in.
- Gordon – what more can we say about this guy on the offensive end? Just get him more shots (11 FGA for the game is as bit of a tragedy)
- Perimeter Defense – nothing against VC (who looked amazing obvi), but, if we have an adequate defender there, he doesn’t go off like this. This is an important part of the Eric Gordon narrative – we’re committed to Davis / Gordon backcourt and this is a *glaring* deficiency that needs to be addressed during the off-season. There are too many great wing players in this league.
- 4th Quarter Collapse – well, what can you say. Is there a consistent theme playing out in all our Q4 collapses? Tonight seemed less… egregious I would say, with VC hitting a couple of high difficulty 3s to get them there. But Dunleavy needs to prepare this team for “end-game” well before the 2 minute mark, with a consistent offensive game plan (no milling about please) and increased defensive intensity focusing on locking down big game players and stemming the tide.
- Lawrence Frank! – I love this guy (prolly cause he reminds me of JVG) — and he provides us with even more fodder for the “up by 3 late in the game do you take the foul” debate! Does it make sense last night? He put an enormous amount of pressure on his team to convert free throws, so I think this needs to be a part of the calculus. I don’t think it was a horrible call. That being said, Frank probably jumped the gun leaving a bit too much time for the Clippers to game plan adequately (even if Hayes converted). It works out though, Frank looks smart…
I am checked out as a fan of the 08/09 Clippers. It is not with a heavy heart that I follow this season – I’m merely dead inside. I won a signed Thornton jersey at the half-time Staples auction couple months ago that sits limply on a file cabinet tucked away in the corner of my office. I have no plans to display this thing. From Kevin’s recent “All Shook Down” piece:
“Clippers fans, with rare exceptions, are accustomed to the layer of gloom that hangs over the franchise, but most of it can be managed with a long sigh, shake of the head, and a resigned laugh.”
This should resonate with any fan of this beleaguered franchise. And it is testament to Kevin’s professionalism / sadomasochism that he continues to churn out in-depth, poignant analysis on your 08/09 Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling gave us a real whopper of a moment, helping to frame the narrative for the season, but it’s grotesque theater – this season is truly like watching a train wreck. You know who I feel for? Might sound kind of strange, but honestly, I really feel for Baron.
I have always contended that a shorter regular season with less franchises is a solid go-forward strategy for the League – to increase the overall quality of the product we see on a nightly basis. I believe there are also ways this could also improve the NBA’s challenged economics. Maybe I’m wrong on this score, but going into tonight’s game, showcasing a sub .500 team in a “playoff race” by virtue of being in a top-heavy conference, and one of the worst teams in the league by record, I’m reminded of this notion.
What I sometimes forget though is that during the slog of the regular season, games like last night are produced. Down by 1, seconds remain, Baron passes up the wide-open shot to find the hot hand knowing (we all knew) that Novak would drain it – that he would win the game and be a hero. Staples is electric. Watching Baron leap onto Novak and the players celebrate as if they had just won a Final 4 game. As fans we vicariously live through this, and this is what’s magical about being a sports fan. We are pulled out of reality – hope restored, even if only for a night.