If you told me before Game Two that Denver would hold EB to 19 points, Cassell would go 4-15 from the field, the Nugs would take 37 free throw attempts to the Clippers 25...and that the Clippers would lead by double digits from the 5:43 mark of the first quarter onward, I would've asked for some of whatever you were smoking. 

Tomorrow - the first quarter possession by possession. 

Some early thoughts:

  • I'm a shameless pimp for Quinton Ross, but the guy is a defensive genius.  Did you see the third Denver possession of the evening? Elson set a high screen for ‘Melo. Ross not only recovered but he was able to move fast enough to force ‘Melo baseline and into to the teeth of our interior defense.  The prior possession, Ross forced ‘Melo into an awful off-balance 18-footer that barely nicked the rim. On the fourth possession, he blocked Miller's driving layup attempt. The one after that? He drew a charge - a frustrated push off - on ‘Melo.  When Q can fulfill that doesn't-need-the-ball-but-can-hit-an-open-16-footer role, he's indispensable.

    The Clippers are a better team when Quinton Ross is on the court.  It's that simple. 

  • Maggette played a much crisper game - and a lot more active off-the-ball.  He also seems to play better with Elton on the floor (but that would probably be true of my game, too, and I haven't picked up a Spalding since the Clinton Administration).  When I'm frustrated with Maggette's game, it's because he doesn't recognize that he's the best athlete on the floor.  And that means that he can make like Rip Hamilton and run his guy ragged, creating a ridiculous amount of space for himself.   Why settle for fade-away jumpers when the defense will offer you so much more if you'll just do a little work off the ball? 

  • I want to look at some more of the game on Tivo, but from the seats it looked like Elton passed the ball well tonight.  He recorded only two assists, but seemed to make quality decisions in the double-team - something he's had trouble doing in the past, particularly against larger defenders.  14 field goal attempts, 5 free throw attempts, 5 offensive rebounds and only 1 turnover.  To get as many touches as EB got and rack up only a single turnover is solid.  

    Elton Brand, Professional Basketball Player.

  • The Clippers got away with another shoddy night on the glass.  Denver gathered 16 offensive boards.  And even though they missed 52 field goals - 52 field goals(!) - the Nuggets outrebounded the Clippers 49-44.  This is the kind of thing that can be swept under the rug at home, but will kill a team on the road.  If Dunleavy needs to plug this hole in Denver, then it's conceivable that Singleton could get some minutes -- though Corey has been a rebounding fiend in both games, the one thing he's been doing unequivocally well.   

  • If I were a Denver fan, the play of Reggie Evans would make me feel a wee bit better if Kenyon Martin is out.  I still think the Nugs are screwed if K-Mart can't go, but Evans dogged Elton all night in the post and, if given the responsibility, could make EB work a little in Denver.  What would concern me is Karl's preference of Boykins over Greg Buckner - though I recognize that his sharpshooting tonight was somewhat of an aberration.  But doesn't Karl realize that no matter how hard he might try to amp up the tempo, his team is going to be forced in some form and function to operate in the half court?  Doesn't he know that Buckner is the guy he wants out there with Miller to do that?  The threes are just a bonus.
  • There's nothing more mortifying than enjoying the camaraderie of your fellow fans at the game then having the wave break out.  John insisted that it cost Vlad a second free throw.  I just think it's beneath NBA fans, much less Angelenos.  Shit, people, show a little pride - if not for your community, then for the gene pool.