The Clippers operate efficiently in the first half. They work a couple of sets for Corey Maggette with some weak side screens; The two-man game with Brevin Knight and Tim Thomas runs smoothly in the first; The Raptors yield the perimeter and the Clips hit their shots; Chris Kaman manages to maneuver low against Rasto Nesterovic. Thornton throws down a monstrous dunk on a drive after moving off the ball to an open space at the right elbow.
So things basically work - though hitting open jumpers makes it a lot easier.
The second half was an entirely different story. The Clips convert four FGMs in the entire third quarter. They get called for a shot clock violation twice in about a two minute span:
- [3rd, 5:48] The Clips are fielding their starters: Knight, Richie Frahm, Maggette, Thomas, and Kaman. Knight brings it up deliberately and finally makes his first pass - over to Corey above the arc on the right side - at :15. It takes Kaman a while, but he eventually frees himself for an entry pass against Nesterovic way off the right mid-post. The ball goes into him at :11. Kaman backs Nesterovic in toward the lane with a couple of left-handed dribbles. Then, at about :08 as Maggette moves to the weak side, his man, Jamario Moon, slides over to double-team Kaman. Kaman sees Frahm across the court out on the left wing beyond the arc. Kaman tries to pass out of the double-team, but Moon deflects the pass out of bounds with :07. The Clippers take timeout.
The Clips will inbound under their own basket. Kaman tries a back screen for Frahm on Anthony Parker, but Parker runs right above it and is fully recovered on Frahm once Frahm gets the ball on the inbound from Knight in the corner. Frahm dribbles along the arc back up top. Corey meets him at the top of the arc and Frahm shuttles the ball over to him at :04. So it's Corey holding it up top at :03 against Moon. Corey has to create. He begins a drive toward the gut of the lane, but Parker has moved off Frahm and is waiting for Corey at the foul line. Corey simultaneously heaves up the ball while trying to draw contact against Parker. Corey has Richie Frahm behind him all alone at the top of the arc if he wants him. The ball squirts out of Maggette's hand; before it's recovered by anyone, we're at :00.
The first fundamental problem is that, for a team that's having trouble getting decent looks in the halfcourt, the Clippers are taking an awfully long time getting set. I don't think they have to throw up the first shot they see, but Knight might want to distribute the ball for the first time before nine seconds have expired on the shot clock. Second, out of the timeout, Kaman has to give Frahm a better screen than the one he offered. But he seems more concerned about rolling off and getting himself free underneath.
Ultimately, it's like most of the second half - the Clips can't do anything off the ball to free themselves up to the open spaces on the floor.
- [3rd, 3:36] Here it is again: Knight's first pass is to Tim Thomas, about 28 feet from the basket at the top of the arc being guarded by Chris Bosh. Thomas gets it, hold it, then returns it to Knight at :13 - about 26 feet from the hoop. Knight dumps it into Kaman off the right mid-post at about :10. The double team comes immediately this time - from Knight's man, Calderon. Knight dives to the hoop, but Parker picks him up. Frahm is now the open man, but he's way, way over on the left wing. Kaman, to his credit, manages to take a dribble that way and free himself up to make the skip pass to Frahm at :06. But Parker closes very quickly and the Toronto rotation resets nicely. Frahm shoots the ball over to Maggette at the top of the arc with about :05. It's Maggette off the dribble against Moon. Again, Maggette drives toward the gut of the lane and, again, Parker slides over to double team. Maggette splits the defenders. As he meets Calderon at about the smiley-face, Corey heaves the ball up, hoping to draw the foul. No call. The ball deflects over to Tim Thomas who isn't mindful of the time. If he's quick, he's got a shot from about 20. But Thomas takes a dribble in. By the time he elevates for his shot, the shot clock has expired.
With only a couple of exceptions, the Clips' defensive rotation is fluent all night. Thomas, with a sprained ankle, does fairly well against Bosh, though the big man misses at least five shots he normally hits.
Most of the turnovers aren't all that careless; they're the result of the Clippers' inability to find shots. It's asking a lot for Kaman to perform against swift double-teams 17 feet away off the mid-post every single night. Maggette can create, but collapsing defenses are starting to get wise to it, especially late in possessions. Until some of the big names return, I'm not sure how the Clippers are supposed to get looks.