The opening moments of the fourth quarter are disastrous – what with Chris Kaman spinning into a double-team when he has Chris Mihm one-on-one; and Richie Frahm gullibly biting on a Sasha Vujacic ball fake; and four Clippers crowding into one quadrant of the halfcourt on an offensive set; and – this is the worst – doubling Jordan Farmar on a high S/R with Vlad Radmanovic and Vujacic just beside him on the arc and only one Clipper to cover both.
But prior to this monstrosity, Corey Maggette nearly matches Randy Smith's franchise record of 23 points in a quarter. Corey finishes the third period with 21, single-handedly keeping the Clippers in the game.
Here's how his quarter proceeds:
- [10:17] Off a steal by Brevin Knight, the Clippers [try to] run a 3-on-2 break. Knight has Ross, well-covered by Kobe Bryant, on the left wing with Maggette trailing. Knight shuttles the ball to Maggette. Corey awkwardly slams on the breaks when he meets a stationary Derek Fisher. This effectively ends the break. From about 14 feet, Corey spins left and draws contact.
Mike Smith: "That wasn't a pretty fast break."
Ralph Lawler: "It wasn't even attractive…It didn't even have a nice personality."
The Clippers continue to run one of the ugliest fast breaks in basketball and have for several seasons now.
Corey hits both FTAs.
[0-0] FG, [2-2 FT], 2 PTS
- [8:41] Corey starts this set on the weak side over in the right corner. The ball works its way up top to Paul Davis. Kaman moves low to set a little brush screen on Lamar Odom. Corey pops up to the right elbow where he receives the ball from Davis. Odom recovers, but falls for Corey's ball fake. You know the drill.
Corey hits both FTAs.
[0-0] FG, [4-4] FT, 4 PTS
- [6:54] On a previous possession, Corey misses when he pulls up at the line on a dribble-drive.
Here, the Clips are in transition. Corey sets up all alone on the left arc. Knight quickly darts it over to Corey, who sinks the 3PA.
Corey is hitting about 35% of his 3PAs this season [17-48]. All of last season, he went [13-65] from beyond for a 20% clip.
[1-2] FG, [1-1] 3PA, [4-4] FT, 7 PTS
- [4:09] On a previous possession, Corey misses awfully after splitting a couple of defenders on a halfcourt drive. It appears as if he thought Andrew Bynum was going to step out to challenge him – in which case, Corey would've drawn contact – but Bynum elects to defend the rim and Corey sort of awkwardly heaves it up there. On the next possession, Corey loses it out along the arc to Luke Walton.
But on this set, Corey pops out to the arc as Knight kicks it over to him. Kaman sets a solid screen on Odom, allowing Corey to dribble right – along the sideline. Bynum tries to pick him up, but Corey has a head of steam and the big kid is never really able to recover on the switch. Corey forcefully lays it in.
[2-4] FG, [1-1] 3PA, [4-4] FT, 9 PTS
- [3:47] The Clippers have another 3-on-2 break. Maggette races across halfcourt with the rock; Thornton is out on the left wing, with Ross trailing. Corey kicks it ahead to Thornton. Luke Walton picks up the rookie, which leaves Corey alone barreling down the middle of the lane. Thornton wisely gets it back to Corey, who is assaulted by Farmar – but it's not malicious. Good hard foul, though Farmar never makes a sincere attempt for the ball.
Corey hits both FTs and the Clips get the ball back. After the inbound, Corey picks up a Knight miss under the basket and goes back up with it – and seems to get fouled, but it isn't called. Bynum ends up with the ball, but Maggette pokes it away and it ends up in Kaman's hands – so credit Corey with a steal.
[2-5] FG, [1-1] 3PA, [6-6] FT, 11 PTS
- [2:45] The Lakers have mercifully taken Lamar Odom off Corey and assigned Trevor Ariza instead. Same set as before – Kaman steps up top to set a screen on Corey's defender [Ariza]. This time, Ariza fights through the screen – but Corey still has a step on him as he drives right along the sideline. As Corey reaches the painted area, Odom comes over to help. But it's too late: Corey is already finishing his strong, strong drive.
[3-6] FG, [1-1] 3PA, [6-6] FT, 13 PTS
- [2:21] Odom is back on Maggette, who starts the possession down low. Corey tries to curl up from the baseline, but Odom's ass knocks Corey off-balance directly in front of Violet Palmer. Corey sells it well. The Clips are in the bonus.
Corey hits one of two FTAs.
[3-6] FG, [1-1] 3PA, [7-8] FT, 14 PTS
- [0:59] Two possessions prior, Corey gets it up top and drives down the gut of the lane, beating Ariza there. Odom steps up to take a charge, but Corey skirts to the right of Lamar, but just misses the layup.
Here, Corey starts left side. Again he's against Ariza and, again, Corey gets an explosive first step against him. Corey dribbles right, then – again -- down the gut of the lane where Odom steps up to take a charge. This time, Corey decides to stop on a dime before drawing contact. He elevates straight up – like, it's incredible, three feet off the ground. He leans in a little – enough to maybe draw contact, but not so much that he disrupts his jump shot.
[4-7] FG, [1-1] 3PA, [7-8] FT, 16 PTS
- [0:36] On the other end, Corey skies from the weak side for a rebound. As Corey comes down, Ariza hooks him. The two get their arms tangled. Clear foul on Ariza.
We go to the other end where Corey hits both.
[4-7] FG, [1-1] 3PA, [9-10] FT, 18 PTS
- [0:00] Easily the sickest shot of the season.
We'll blithely forget that it was born out of Corey's dribbling the ball off his foot as he begins his iso against Ariza for the final possession of the quarter.* The ball kicks back toward halfcourt. Corey and Ariza are both in pursuit. Corey finally catches up with the ball about eight feet beyond the halfcourt line with under three seconds remaining. Once Corey regains control of the basketball, it's all he can do to heave it like a discus toward the hoop as the horn sounds.
It banks glass and falls through.
[5-8] FG, [2-2] 3PA, [9-10] FT, 21 PTS
* I'm a little confused. If it kicks off of Corey's foot, then it should be a halfcourt violation. And if it kicks off of Ariza's foot, then it's a dead ball and the Clips get it on the side, no? But…no complaints.
The Clippers were a mess defensively out on the perimeter all night. The Lakers' spacing is far too good not to take advantage of the slightest brainfart – and the Clippers were prolifically flatulent all night. Thornton is still lost on rotations; Frahm hasn't learned them yet. And Dickau doesn't have the ability to bother the ball. Meanwhile, Knight has lost a step – and quickness was his only attribute defensively given his size. On top of that, the double-teams were tentative and slow and Davis, I'm afraid, is strictly a hacker. He might learn how to defend an NBA rim, but hasn't yet.