Our plan was to examine, in detail, the Clippers' ten first quarter turnovers with the contention that the game was lost in the first.  I mean, a basketball team displays a special kind of incompetence by coughing it up as many times as they hit from the field.[1]  But somehow, these slobs managed to put themselves in a position to win the game, despite turning it over on 26 different possessions while converting 27 FGs[2].  26 and 27 -- that's quite a feat. 

But here we are at 6:20 in the 4th, with the Clippers leading 81-80. An outline of the final six minutes or so:

 

  • Corey, on the right wing, trying to kick it back to Cassell, throws it into the backcourt.  Just when you think Maggette has fully exhausted his eclectic range of turnovers, he develops something new. 
    [1 turnover]

  • Elton draws a foul by pushing off Garnett way out on the wing.  For all the awful officiating tonight, they got this one right.
    [2 turnovers]

  • The Clippers space the floor nicely on this possession, and Minnesota is rotating well - one of the few instances in the game in which both squads are playing quality basketball.  Brand is just off the right block.  When Livingston penetrates, Mark Blount - who had rotated onto Elton - collapses on Shaun.  Shaun deftly finds EB for a shot Elton generally hits.  Not this time.
    [2 turnovers, 0-1 Brand]

  • Again, nice spacing.  When James rotates back onto Shaun, leaving Corey alone way out on the wing, Corey moves inside, cutting quickly into the paint.  He gets a good entry pass from Cassell, then does his thing, earning a trip to the line.  It's that old chestnut that, when a guy moves off the ball, good things happen. 
    [2 turnovers, 0-1 Brand, 1-1 Maggette[3]]

  • In transition, Cassell gets it ahead to Maggette on the left side.  Corey dribbles past Hassell, gets into the lane and puts up an off-balanced jumper from about 13 feet. 
    [2 turnovers, 1-2 Maggette, 0-1 Brand]

  • Down nine now, the Clips run a S/R up top from Brand for Cassell.  When Blount leaves Brand to double-team the penetrating Cassell, Sam dishes back over to Brand.  This is the kind of set that we beg the Clippers to do more of.  Another open jumper from the right side[4] from Brand. Another miss.
    [2 turnovers, 1-2 Maggette, 0-2 Brand]

  • An awful entry pass from Mobley into Brand.  Off EB, out of bounds.
    [3 turnovers, 1-2 Maggette, 0-2 Brand]

  • Moving pick by Brand out on the right wing.  Let's give the Clippers this - they're turnover it over quickly, not allowing too much time to run off the clock.
    [4 turnovers, 1-2 Maggette, 0-2 Brand]

  • Maggette posts on the right block against Hassell.  Mobley gets the ball into Corey.  Maggette spins baseline, heaves up a fall-back 16-foot jumper.  No good, but Brand grabs the rebound and kicks it out to Thomas.  His 3FGA is no good, but Maggette secures the rebound on the weak side glass.  He goes back up with it and earns another trip to the line. 
    [4 turnovers, 2-4 Maggette, 0-2 Brand, 0-1 Thomas]

  • Down 11, Shaun doesn't waste any time.  He quickly backs James down and hits the turnaround 11 footer. 
    [4 turnovers, 2-4 Maggette, 0-2 Brand, 1-1 Livingston, 0-1 Thomas]

At this point, we're under a minute and the Clips still trail by 11.   Thomas throws up another 3FGA, and, appropriately, Cassell turns it over the final seconds.

If you take out the two offensive rebounds that yielded a Thomas shot, and a Maggette trip to the line, it looks like this:

  • Maggette - 3
  • Brand - 2
  • Livingston - 1

The Clippers get the shots they want.  Obviously, it's easier to spread the shots around when you don't turn the ball over five times in the final six minutes. But Elton gets two good shots; Maggette's aren't as smart, but he's done worse. When you let your opponent score almost every time down, it's hard to get anything in transition, and you end up having to grind in the halfcourt.  So you've got that.  On top of which, it's tough to get quick shots, so it's harder to eat into the lead. 

The Clippers give back their win in Minneapolis and tonight play at Seattle against one of the NBA's worst defensive teams in recent memory.  Because the Sonics work almost everything on the perimeter, the Clips will have to rotate quickly and proficiently - something they've been doing a little better in recent weeks.


[1]You know those games when you almost root against your team just so you can express your disappointment and ire at the way they're playing?  Tonight was one of those games.  

[2] To be fair, the Clips went to the line 7,420 times.  NBA Basketball - it's fan-tastic!

[3] For the sake of this exercise, let's call a 2-2 trip to the line 1-1.  A trip to the line that yields a 1-2, is worth .5 FGs.  I know it sounds confusing, but bear with me because I'm trying to break down the Clips' shot selections, not so much their proficiency from the field.

[4] Interesting that Brand sets up right again.  Just interesting, that's all.