Looking at last night's flow chart, I can't quite figure out where I'm supposed to start and end the frame.  Do I highlight the 20-0 run? Do I extend it further and call it a 30-4 run? 

Whatever.  They won the basketball game.  Exhale:

  • I know his line isn't as eye-popping as it was the previous night, but I thought Shaun had another terrific game.  We may have to accept that he's going to be more Jason Kidd than Magic Johnson or even peak Gary Payton. I'm not sure that, even in his prime, Shaun isn't going to have nights when he doesn't break double-digits.  We'll look at the box score and say, "eeehhh...comme ci, comme ca."  Okay, maybe you won't say comme ci, comme ca, but whatever.  What I see here is a kid who is on his way to becoming one of the best all-around defenders in the league, and I credit Dunleavy for a lot of that.  

  • We shouldn't take too much away from Cat's performance, and we sort of saw him fall off in the second half, a bit.  Nevertheless, a big thrust of the foam number one finger from Clipper Naçion, shall we?    I mean, that's why we come and watch basketball, isn't it?  To see guys get into a zone so we can marvel at it. Brand's heroics have always been workmanlike - and that's why we love him.  Corey's are acrobatic.  But we don't get a lot of unconsciousness in these here parts, so it was fun to watch.  I mean, that off-balance flying three pointer to end the half?  As Senator Clay Davis would say, "Sheeeeeeeeet." 

  • Elton still isn't getting enough shots - though we can attribute some of that last night to Cat.  If there's a perimeter guy as hot as Cat was, hell, abandon the post game for a quarter.  But Elton's finishes weren't as proficient; again, he passed up some makeable shots.  The good news was his FT line.  Elton Brand should be making about 5-6 trips to the line a night [10 or 12 FTA], and last night he accomplished that. 

  • Tim Thomas had one of his versatile games.  We probably don't want to see him taking 12 shots a night - unless he's feeling it - but he seemed to pick and choose his spots well.  When there were opportunities to post up Warrick or someone else, or at least make them work, he did.  And he had another decent defensive game, too.  My thoughts on Thomas are that he's only going to be a game-maker about 12-15 times a year.  The other 65-70 nights, you just want him to be a regular old backup forward - play reasonably acceptable defense, set some quality high screens [TT does this quite well, when he wants to], don't take stupid shots, and when a guy gets open on the weak side, get the ball to him.

  • Q had a very Q-ish line in a game where there wasn't really a shutdown assignment: 11 points, 4-4 from the field, 3-4 from the stripe, five steals, three assists, three rebounds, zero turnovers.  One thing that worries me [and Ralph has deftly pointed this out]: Q is establishing a pattern where he's picking up early fouls.  Last night, it was at 11:51 in the first; In Sacramento, it was 11:48, then the second foul at 9:55; In Denver, at 4:37, then again at 4:01; In Minneapolis, 1:13 [offensive], and 0:02 [c'mon, man]; The Seattle game, 9:19, then 5:37.  The Laker game, 9:56 and 1:24.  Last night was the first time in six games that Q has made it out of the first quarter, and he still got whistled nine seconds in.
       
  • Did anyone else have that kicked dog feeling when Memphis cut it to eight in the fourth quarter?   Like it was going to happen again?  It makes me nervous to have that feeling.  Down the stretch last season, I never felt that way.
       

My favorite series of the night came during the heart of the Clippers' late first quarter run [1st, 1:24].  I've always thought that there was something corny and even mythical about that Gene-Hackman-in-Hoosiers chestnut that "all five guys should touch the ball."  They should?  Really?  Does it necessarily guarantee a better shot?  Do you even want all five guys touching the ball?  I don't recall Mark Eaton or Rick Mahorn or Dennis Rodman touching the ball all that much.  Hell, I'd rather they set a couple of borderline dirty screens, then find the weak side glass.  

Anyway...

Shaun brings it up quickly in transition.  Despite a plea from Mike Smith [1] to keep pushing, Shaun slows it up.  Shaun quickly dumps it into EB in the post.  Brand is immediately doubled [go figure] and kicks it back out crisply to Maggette at the top of the arc.  The good news: it's a shot Maggette takes too often, but this time he passes it back over to Shaun on the wing.  Shaun looks for Elton again [I like that.  Shaun should look for Elton first.  Almost always, unless there's serious daylight between him and the hoop], but Elton is doubled off the ball.  So Shaun delivers the ball crosscourt to Thomas at the right garden.  TT isn't feeling it, even though he's got Atkins on the mismatch, so he dumps it into Mobley, who has Gay one-on-one. Cat backs Gay in, spins and shoots at 15 feet and hits. 
Best looking 15 seconds of the season.


[1] If he didn't talk so fucking much, I'd like Mike Smith.  He offers some decent insight, but, Mike, did you just see that?  Elton just fought off three guys for the rebound, got it ahead to Maggette, who just went Curly Neal on the entire Mavericks defense!  You're sitting beside one of the great play-by-play guys of the last 40 years.  And now, instead of having Ralph paint it for us beautifully, all we have is your yapping about how Bird and McHale made you take the center seat on the fucking charter back in the day, you douche.