Things Sam Cassell can do to help your basketball team:
- After starting 1-5 from the field in the first quarter, Sam reenters the game in the second quarter at 5:28 with the Clippers down eight. After Brand tips a horrible Devin Brown pass, Liivingston races it up and finds Sam for the 18-foot PUJIT. Yep.
The Clippers racked up 19 fast break points, the most in a game since November 14 at Utah, the seventh game of the season. After the Sacramento win, I suggested that the Clippers benefit from slower games. Having said that, there are teams --- the Hornets, Utah, Houston...and, yes, Minnesota --- the Clippers can exploit in transition. Having Sam on the court allows the Clippers to manufacture those easy buckets. Without Sam, the Clips have been backing it out of transition almost every time up.
- Off a screwball play, in which Linton Johnson strips the rock from EB, then the Hornets lose it in transition after Singleton tips it away from Pargo from behind, the Clips gets it to Sam who goes up or the PUJIT, realizes he's got contact, leans into Chandler, and hits the shot anyway.
A beautiful hybrid of Sam's most lethal maneuvers - the PUJIT and the lean-to.
- Another brilliant hybrid a couple minutes later off an EB offensive rebound. A double-clutching, two-handed hurl as Devin Brown falls into Sam.
- Coming out of halftime, with the Clippers down two, here's the Cassell/Brand synergy. Shaun inbounds the ball to Sam after an off-ball foul on Tyson Chandler. Sam holds it up top momentarily. EB arrives on the scene way up high to screen Brown, and Sam immediately finds the open space, two dribbles to his right, for the open 23-footer. Just a perfect little Elton/Sam number.
There were plenty of other PUJITs, and a nice two-man waltz with Mobley in the near post that yielded an open Sam three when Pargo fell asleep, and --- my personal favorite --- a textbook elbow screen from Elton at 7:20 in the 4th that allowed Sam to sink a 20-footer to put the Clips up by five.
One of the things I think we forget is that Elton Brand can do so much more for you on a court to win basketball games than merely score. And when Sam Cassell runs the offense, those assets seem to materialize. For the first time in a month last night, EB didn't seem frustrated. And he didn't have time to because he was so busy working off the ball to get Sam his looks. There's a terrific symbiosis between these two guys and, when it's on display, the Clippers play their best basketball.