The Clips claw their way back to within with a little under eight minutes remaining in the third quarter.  They yield only two points to New Orleans on the Hornets’ first eight possessions of the second half.  So with 7:40 remaining, they look to their best matchup on the offensive end: Sam Cassell against Chris Paul.  Sam doesn’t have much quickness, but he’s as good as any point guard in the league at exploiting his size against a physically slight defender.  Cassell kicks it over to the top left arc for Corey Maggette, then cuts to the far corner.  Maggette dumps it into Tim Thomas off the mid-left post, but West does a nice job of nudging far enough off the key that Tim can’t do much.  But then, Kaman offers Cassell a nice pin down screen on Paul at the right elbow.  Paul eventually recovers, but Sam has already crossed into the lane with a left-handed drive.  When Paul catches up, Sam spins back toward the lane, then backs Paul down a little more with a bump, enough to create space to spin back and elevate for a 12-footer.  He hits it, and the Clips have their first lead in ages, 53-52, with 7:24 remaining in the third.

The Hornets immediately come down and run a high S/R with Paul and David West.  Thomas and Cuttino Mobley trap Paul.   Paul gets it over to West.  Sam, who has Mo Peterson out on the arc, quickly picks up West at the top of the key.  So the rotation looks good.  But here’s the strange thing:  For some reason, Corey is doubling low on Tyson Chandler, though the ball is nowhere near Chandler [the first time Chandler has been doubled off the ball since high school?].  This leaves Peja Stojakovic wide open precisely where Peja Stojakovic likes to be left wide open.  West wastes no time.  He darts the ball over to Stojakovic.  New Orleans leads 55-52.  The next time Peja misses a shot, the Hornets lead by 19.  

Apart from Sam, Corey Maggette puts together a stellar offensive night.  Like Wednesday, Corey for open looks and lanes rather than just looking to scratch his way to the line.   Thomas feels it for a brief period in the third quarter against West, but West adjusts his close-out clock by, like, half a second and Tim isn’t heard much from after that.  In general, the Hornets interior defenders don’t give up a whole lot, and Kaman never establishes good low position tonight against Chandler.  

Regarding the ongoing psychodrama, there’s this from Friday's LAT:
Sterling left his courtside seat Wednesday at the start of the third quarter, angry that Dunleavy was playing Quinton Ross, who has missed his last 19 shots, instead of rookie Al Thornton, who had a strong second quarter.

The Clippers pulled away in the third quarter in their most lopsided win of the season.

Sterling returned to his seat late in the fourth quarter.

With a healthy lineup that includes four legitimately offensive threats [say Cassell, Maggette, Brand, and Kaman], a couple of whom demand double-teams, a defensive stopper can work.  But the Clippers don’t have a lot of offensive luxuries, and Ross – as good a defensive stretch as he’s had in recent weeks – is incapable of scoring right now.   Having said that, Ross hasn’t played more than 24 minutes since New Years and has played over 30 minutes only once in the past 23 games.  Personally, I think the whole starting lineup racket is overblown.  The imperative stat is MPG.  Given the team’s lack of depth, I don’t have a problem with Q. Ross playing 18 minutes per game, and his 18 minutes should probably come while Kevin Martin, Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul is on the floor.   

Dunleavy doesn’t have many good choices with his starting lineup.  Forget about the Sterling Five: Cassell, Maggette, Thornton, Thomas, and Kaman. As currently configured, the Clippers need either Mobley or Ross on the floor against the opponent’s top backcourt or wing player.  But if Dunleavy starts Mobley, then that leaves Knight and Ross as your second unit backcourt.  So instead, Dunleavy pairs his best/worst offensive players who also happen to be his best/worst defensive players.  When the Clips start this lineup, they’re 4-5.  If you want better, then it might be worth looking at a starting five of Cassell, Mobley, Maggette, Thornton, and Kaman, saving Thomas for the second unit.  You’d have to live with matchups like David West-Al Thornton, or Pau Gasol-Al Thornton, which is a lot to ask a rookie whose confidence you’re trying to build.  But it’s worth considering.  

Since the Clippers are his toy, DTS has every right to express a dissenting opinion on a coach’s choice of lineups.  But I also subscribe to the tacit rule that once an owner empowers a coach to run the on-court proceedings, that owner should stick to presenting oversized Foundation checks to the afflicted and the aspirational.  The nuttiest thing about Sterling’s tantrum here is that Dunleavy’s fondness for Quinton Ross isn’t news.   It’s not as if Sterling is witnessing some impetuous act of defiance on Dunleavy’s part. Dunleavy’s preference for certain kinds of basketball players hasn’t changed at all since 2005.  So if you’re not a Ross person, if you think defensive ballplayers are overvalued in the imagination of Mike Dunleavy, then you probably don’t want to give the guy $22M and a clipboard.