Tonight’s recap was penned by Sumner Widdoes, ClipperBlog’s newest contributor. Enjoy:
I’m not sure how to feel about making my ClipperBlog debut on this inauspicious first day AD (After Dunleavy). The hope is that new voices will help improve the fan experience for followers of this blog, but those looking for a new direction from this team must have been disappointed in the Clippers’ first game in the Neil Olshey era. This loss certainly presents an unsettling omen for an organization that “want[s] to win now.”
There were plenty of forces working against the Clippers tonight: the second night of a road back-to-back; Eric Gordon missing his third consecutive game; playing against Dwayne Wade in AmericanAirlines Arena. But it was a slow start, a distinct lack of discipline on offense, an inability to defend the high pick-and-roll and debilitating foul trouble that ultimately did the team in tonight. They started the game sluggishly then hoped that Rasual Butler’s hot hand alone would keep them in the game – a feat he almost accomplished, going 12-19 for 31 points, including six three pointers. Wade destroyed any Clipper big that popped out to help on the high ball screen and had plenty of outlets once he got into the lane from Michael Beasley’s midrange jumper and Mario Chalmers, James Jones and Q. Richardson’s spot-up threes.
So it was a game like many we’ve seen recently: A moderately close contest that seldom showed signs of a legitimate Clipper comeback and ended with a substantial loss. The most intriguing part of Wednesday’s game was actually a phone call that Ralph and Mike placed during the second quarter to the newly promoted GM. This was the first time I had ever heard Olshey’s voice, as he called in from New York City where he is scouting the Big East Tournament. He sounded energetic, enthused and especially confident in the team’s current standing (in terms of personnel, not record), and, after thanking Sterling and Roeser for the promotion, made some interesting comments regarding the team’s goals for the remainder of this season and the options they have this summer. The highlights:
- “The No. 1 thing is working with Kim Hughes … to find a way to finish this season strong.” Obviously fans and season ticket holders want to see a team that is playing to win, but Olshey made it a point to express the importance of further developing the chemistry of the core players and evaluating the free agent players “under the right circumstances,” which presumably means when they are playing hard and trying to win, not just increase lottery chances. He also noted that the biggest challenge the rest of this season was motivating the veterans to play hard (Read: Baron Davis and Chris Kaman)
- “In an ideal world you find both: need and talent.” Talking about the draft, Olshey was very open about his willingness to trade a first round pick or take a player that plays a position that the team already has filled, which sounds like he views these draft picks not as specific players, but as assets – a necessary trait for a quality GM. Olshey appears to understand the kind of flexibility this team has right now and sees a first round pick as another great resource with which to build a contending club.
- “There are no bad drafts, just bad drafters.” This is just beautiful. He went on to say that, with only five guys under contract for next season, as long as a rookie is talented, he would see playing time with this team. But you really should spend a minute to appreciate that first sentence again.
- “[My wife] was probably as caught off-guard as I was.” I can’t tell what to make of the managerial surprise Donald T. sprung on everyone yesterday evening. It was reported the Dunleavy was totally blindsided and apparently Olshey was too. Aren’t things like this the reasons people call the Clippers a poorly run organization?
- “The most important thing for everyone to remember is that we’re in excellent position…” Olshey finished with this, expounding on all the assets the Clippers have in place and the commitment from ownership to make moves that will shape the organization “for the next four or five years.” It sounds like a similar message as his predecessor’s coming from a new voice….kind of like it is here at ClipperBlog.