The Clippers finished the 2006-2007 season 40-42, seven games below last season's 47-35 mark.  The seven games the Clippers should've won this season that they didn't:

  • Game 11, November 25 - Minnesota 104, Clippers 96: The Clippers were a particularly good team this season when leading after three quarters, but they screwed the pooch in this one. Not only did the Clippers lead by 12 going into the fourth, they never had the game out of their grasp -- until they allowed 35 points in the fourth quarter.  They couldn't get a stop, literally not one, inside of 5:30 until Foye missed with 13 seconds remaining.  And it wasn't even Kevin Garnett who hurt them; KG had only two FGMs in the period.  Marko Jaric killed them.  And Mark Blount.  Mark Blount!  I imagine that if Randy Foye goes on to have a distinguished career, he'll look at this game as a niece piece of the foundation.  His vicious drive off the dribble against Sam Cassell inside of a minute sealed the W for Minnesota and dropped the Clippers to 0-4 on the road - a problem that we never knew then would become an epidemic. 

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  • Game 24, December 20 - Toronto 98, Clippers 96: The worst buzzer-beater of the season for the Clips.  The Clippers actually trailed through most of the game, but inched ahead inside of a minute on a pair of Shaun Livingston FTMs for their first lead since early in the 2nd quarter.  For the most part, Shaun and Elton brought the Clips back with a 9-1 rally late in the 4th quarter.  Shaun took control of the tempo and forced the action, running an effective two-man game with Elton who, after seeming tired through most of the season's first six weeks, demanded the ball down the stretch.  Ultimately, the Clippers pissed away a crucial possession with the game tied and :44 seconds when all they could get was a trapped Cuttino Mobley in the left corner throwing up an airball with the shot clock expiring.  Unfortunately for the Clips, Toronto was more fruitful.  They isolate for TJ Ford up top way, way, way beyond the arc.  From the recap: 

    Amazingly, Ford doesn't even cross the arc until 3.2 seconds or so.  He puts this little stutter-fake move on Ross, who has managed to stay in front of him.  Off the fake, TJ catches Ross back on his heels for a nanosecond.  The shot is a fadeway. 

    And it lands. 


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  • Game 53, February 14 - Atlanta 96, Clippers 93: If someone asked you just prior to the season to look at the schedule and bet your life on one game, which one would it have been?  Me?  I'm dead right now because the Clippers lost to the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center, a game that, by the process of elimination, was the most winnable game of the year.  This game was so winnable that the Clips had no compunction about keeping Elton Brand out of the lineup to treat his back spasms, an injury he probably plays through if the Clippers have a bigger game.  There was something else about this game that was really unsettling: Having played 47 minutes of great basketball and given the responsibility to own the box with the game on the line and Elton out, Chris Kaman completely spazzed out on the Clippers' final offensive series.  There was no shot clock and the Clips inbounded the ball with only :19 left and down two.  Chris got a good look at a little 5-foot hook shot, but missed it short.  But he got the rebound with :09, so there's plenty of time le------Never mind, Kaman just threw up the ball off his back foot - an airball - even though every Clipper on the floor was running toward him to collect the ball and reset for the final nine seconds.  Undoubtedly, Chris Kaman's stunted growth was one of the central causes of the Clippers' underachievement this season and it was on display in the closing seconds of this one.

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  • Game 71, March 28 - Houston 92, Clippers 87: While clawing their way back to respectability a few weeks back, the Clippers played well in a series of close games against good teams.  The Clippers won a couple of these games, and a couple of others - like the loss to San Antonio on the road -- were moral victories. This one they should've won at Staples, but didn't.  This was a crisp, high-quality game in which the teams combined for only 20 turnovers.  Even though the Yao-Hayes-Battier frontline defense was ferocious and their bigs killed the Clips on the glass, Elton had a solid night from the floor.  And Jason Hart had his best game as a Clipper with 16 points on 12 shots with zero turnovers.  But Houston's halfcourt craftiness was better than the Clippers' help defense and McGrady was able to draw a double-team to free up Shane Battier for a dagger in the far left corner to put the Rockets up one inside of a minute.  The Clippers never scored again. 

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  • Game 75, April 7 -- Denver 96, Clippers 93: This loss was all the more frustrating because it ended the Clippers' most satisfying stretch of the season, the only time in nearly a year that the Clippers looked like the team we hoped they would be in 2007.  For the majority of this one, the Clippers sustained that momentum. They built a 15 point lead during a 16-0 spurt in the second quarter -- most of it with Elton resting.  Four guys recorded steals during the first three minutes of the run, and Thomas looked like the 6'10" freak of versatility he was supposed to be.  There was a surge in the kinetic energy if you were at Staples.  The Clippers were close to winning their fourth straight, and topping a win over the Lakers with a pivotal blow to Denver, who sat just above them in the standings.  Little by little, Iverson started to heat up.  A couple of balls bounced against the Clippers, then things started to deteriorate, culminating with that Linas Kleiza 3PM. What made the shot even worse was that the Clippers had stifled Denver on the possession, inducing Kleiza to heave up an absolutely brick - such a brick, in fact, that it clanked off the glass and took an awkward bounce toward Carmelo Anthony.  But fluke bounces didn't seal this one.  The Clippers stopped executing, and Jason Hart just couldn't stay with Iverson.

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  • Game 77, April 10 - NOOCH 103, Clippers 100 [OT]:  This is when the sheen really came off the Clippers' resurgence and we realized that there were still serious problems far more profound than a couple of injured point guards.  Even though Tyson Chandler's absence ceded all kinds of sick advantages for the Clips in the front court, the Clippers couldn't work anything for Brand, Kaman, or any of the guards in the post.  Still, in the most dramatic final minute of the season, the Clippers - who had never led in the quarter - matched the Hornets bucket for bucket.  With one second left in regulation, EB worked himself a 15-footer over David West and hit it to send the game into OT.   But overtime was a disaster.  It's always particularly humiliating to watch the irony at work when a team loses a game on the failure of its strengths.  The Clips couldn't come down with a rebound in overtime and gave up six points on second-chance shots in a span of under two minutes.  It was probably one of Elton's finest games as a pro. 

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  • Game 80, April 15 - Sacramento 105, Clippers 100.  There are particular games you're just better off being out of town for. A part of me harbors a little survivor guilt for not being there.  I have the game recorded, but I don't want to watch it.  From what I understand, the Clippers were never really in it and that they didn't do one thing acceptably except shoot FTs.  The Clippers had the chance to get into the playoffs through the front door and, on that day, had only to beat a bad basketball team at home, but couldn't.  But I guess that's not even the point. 

    J.J. Adande, who I think is a stellar columnist, resorted to that lazy brand of sports essentialism today by suggesting that the Clippers are destined to be the Clippers.  Clipperblog isn't much of a Calvinist, so maybe that's why he finds that kind of tautology unsatisfying as an explanation for this stuff.  I guess we have six months to figure it out.

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