Points in the Paint: PHX 48, Clippers 30. 

Elton got 22 shots?  Really? Because it seemed like the Clippers couldn't find him all night.  What happened to the foolproof Side Screen & Roll?  The efficient two-man game?  Did Shaun forget how to deal an entry pass? I know Kurt Thomas was back but, still, how difficult is it to work it inside against this team?  I imagine that a good number of Elton's 22 shots came from his 8 offensive rebounds. 

Dunleavy will be tempted all season to go small, as he did tonight, with EB at the center and TT at the 4. 


The Clippers effectively surrendered their strength and, in turn, were never able to set up shop on the block.  They never ran their sets and never pushed the Suns beneath the basket - even when the Suns had Nash, Barbosa, and Banks on the floor together.  The best we can say is that the Clippers posted up their guards, to moderate success.  But too often the Clippers settled for lousy jumpers offered up by a team of inferior size and strength.   They took the bait. 

On offense, PHX's m.o. was to pull the Clips' big away from the basket, thereby giving themselves the opportunity to beat the Clippers off the dribble without having to worry about a blocked shot.  The best example of this was a possession at about 8:30 in the 2nd, leading 32-26.  The Clips settled into a 2-3 matchup zone.  The Suns tossed it around the perimeter; then Marion set a down screen for Diaw, who circled and set up at the foul line.  Banks got it to Diaw, who stepped back, drawing Kaman out in the process.  Along with Kaman, Mobley trapped Diaw at the top of the circle.  Everything looked nice until...Banks darted under the zone, straight to the basket, where Diaw - a freaky-good passer -- found him for an uncontested layup. 

When you have bigs who can pass, life is a lot easier. 

Am I being xenophobic or tribal by suggesting that I'm not sure if Tim Thomas is a Clipper?  He had a horrible night, the worst of it coming at 9:22 in the 4th when he rolled out the red carpet for Marcus Banks to come right down the lane unmolested.  The very next possession, Diaw, off the dribble, made him look ridiculous. A little later, at 3:03 in the 4th with the Clippers down only 6, he came out on Diaw and, again, got faked out on a little stutter step, giving Fatty a clear lane to the basket for an easy layup.  In a matchup zone, TT can't defend the basket and he can't be trusted on the perimeter.  Exactly what is he doing for your basketball team if he isn't making shots?  I mean, I knew the guy wasn't gifted defensively, but I didn't realize that he could single-handedly decimate your interior defense. 

The Clippers are a good basketball team.  And good basketball teams need to trust their game.