First off, a few numerical abstractions:

•    For the first time in the 2006-2007 season, the Clippers have as many road wins as they do home losses.  

•    Over the past week, the Clippers have climbed to 10th in the league in defensive efficiency, passing Denver.  Not inconsequently, the Clippers have climbed over the Nuggets for the 7th playoff seed.

•    Beginning with the Charlotte game, Cat Mobley is 24-42 from beyond the arc [57.1%]. Over the same span, Tim Thomas is 21-41 [51.2%], and if you want to go back to the beginning of the previous road trip, he’s at 55.1%.  

I’m not ready to anoint Jason Hart as a savior, but it warrants  mentioning that this guy came into an untenable situation and not only has made it work, but has provided a sense of coherence to a team that was circling the drain three weeks ago.  The numbers are respectable: 8.9 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.4 RPG with a stingy 1.4 TO number.   But his defense at the point has been gritty, and he’s learning where his scorers need the ball.  At 2:53 in the first quarter last night, he worked the ol’ Side S/R with Elton to perfection, as if he were Sam Cassell.  The very next possession, he ran it again with Elton, exploiting the Rodriguez-Aldridge switch to perfection.  Elton missed the shot, but you couldn’t ask for a better one.  

I’m not sure if prior to last night Quinton Ross has ever been the leading scorer of an NBA game midway into the second quarter.  Ross’ mid-range jumper, what Ralph refers to as ‘the shot Q has to make,’ has been just okay – though he’s shooting 47.1% -- but every once in a while he’ll take a defender off the dribble and sky through the lane.  It’s kind of freaky for a guy who doesn’t have a huge repertoire of offensive skills.   

There’s a temptation to allow the second half of the game to leave a bad taste in the mouth, but I don’t think it’s unusual for a blowout win to tighten to mid-double-digits.  Did the Clippers look like shit during portions of the second half?  Of course.  Is it something that should cloud the fact that a plurality of NBA games are won in the first 18 minutes, as this one was?  No. 

The Cassell injury was dispiriting, not because he’s been an indispensable component of the team [he hasn’t, through no fault of his own], but because he looked as if he got shot when he went down.  Moving laterally alongside Rodriguez as the Spaniard penetrated into the lane, Sam literally crumbled the to the ground, laying motionless, prostrate on the hardwood.  Clipperblog has had some L-5 issues, but can’t even imagine the torturous agony of that.  Meanwhile, it sounds as if Maggette should return on Wednesday.