Finally, the Clippers played a solid third quarter on the road, setting themselves up for the first road win since their win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. But the Clippers’ offense stalled, scoring 16 points in the fourth quarter, the same amount of points as the newly acquired King Marcus Thornton. DeAndre Jordan played the home stretch and the question of whether he should be in the game at the end was answered when he missed all four of his free throws on consecutive possessions with the Clippers down 94-98. Asking DeAndre to make every free throw might be too much, but missing all four? Terrible.
The Clippers had to deal with an unusual situation in Sacramento this season, a full house. The Maloofs have been planning to move the Kings with the attendance falling in this tough economic climate. Not sure that Anaheim is the best long term destination, but the threat of the move was enough for Mayor (and former NBA player) Kevin Johnson and two fan groups (Here We Stay and Sac Deflated) to rally the fans for one last chance before the deadline to request a transfer. For the first time all season, the Kings sold out the arena and treated every play as if this were a playoff game in the early part of the 2000s. I even heard a few cowbells.
However, even with the improved crowd, the Clippers can’t be excused for their deterioration in the fourth quarter. After a game where they routinely found alley-oops and open looks in transition, the offense stagnated because they gave Blake too many simple looks on the block or just off the block. Blake played well tonight, scoring 27 points on 9 for 17 shooting, three great dunks, but he’s not polished enough to be a reliable source of one on one shooting when he has longer defenders covering him like Samuel Dalembert and DeMarcus cousins.
Even when the Clippers did have an open look, like Foye’s three point shot at 5:30, they couldn’t buy the bucket. Instead, they looked distracted by Marcus Thornton’s ability to beat them almost every time down. The Clippers miss Eric Gordon every night that he’s on the bench, but especially tonight as Marcus Thornton lit up Randy Foye.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, Eric Gordon appears further away than we all anticipated. Rumors circled that he would be in the lineup today, but from the sounds of Gordon’s pre game interview, his presence in the starting lineup on Wednesday even sounds suspect.
Until then, the Clippers are going to have to find some help for them to help them win, Randy Foye’s 23 points are great, but he doesn’t bring the intensity to both ends the way Eric Gordon does.
- One of the worries bringing in Mo Williams was whether he could run a team. On Mo’s first fast break with the Clippers he raced down the right side, Blake filled in and, with three Kings players around, Mo slipped a bounce pass to Blake for a dunk. The assist might not have been as fancy as a Baron pass, but the bounce reached Blake just as effectively. Later in the first, Mo tried a half court alley-oop to Blake and wasn’t close, but Mo learned quickly in the second half, throwing an almost half court alley-oop to Blake while Mo’s ankle was bothering him.
- Normally, I’m not one to put too much stock into +/- as an important stat. So many variables come into play, like who the player’s sub is, who they are subbing for, who the player is facing, who else is on his unit. But tonight Al-Farouq Aminu racked up an impressively bad -23 in just 22 minutes. The rest of his stats don’t show the cracks, 5 points, 5 rebounds with a steal, a block (an amazing block at the end of the first quarter) and not a single turnover.
- Gomes was conspicuously inconspicuous. Dude took only one shot, didn’t score a point and was barely visible on the court.
- Kaman had another good shooting night, going 6 for 12 in his 25 minutes off the bench. However, he had costly turnovers and reminded why he can be so frustrating in the first place. What makes the situation so difficult with DeAndre is DJ’s inability to shoot free throws. With the game close, DeAndre missed four consecutive free throws in a row.
- Turnovers. The Clippers had 20 turnovers tonight. Blake, Mo, Kaman, Bledsoe and Randy Foye all had 3 turnovers tonight, none of them protected the ball well. Vinny frequently brings up turnovers in interviews but the Clippers have a long ways to go, especially now that they have a new point guard. Although, caring for the ball is skill better to learn now, when the season is pretty much over than next year, when there are high expectations again.
- Clippers were outrebounded tonight and the final tally wasn’t even close. The Kings hauled in 49 rebounds compared to the Clippers’ 39. A huge margin to overcome for the Clippers who usually take advantage of their abilities on the glass.
- With the first half winding down, Mo Williams pulled up for a three that would have made 2009 Baron Davis blush, the difference? Mo hustled back and stole the ball in transition.