- Corey Maggette's True Shooting Percentage was 104%. My hamster-and-wheel operation here in Echo Park doesn't have the capacity to tell me if there's ever been a playoff performer who has racked up a TS% of >100% while scoring at least 25 points, but I'd be curious to know.
For good measure, Corey turned the ball over only once and compiled four assists - not bad for a guy who tends to struggle with basic entry passes into the post. Justin Lester made a really smart observation on the way out of Staples after the game:
When the Clippers space the floor, Corey does his best work, more so than even most wing players.
Against a Suns team that found itself pushed below the foul line having to contain Brand, Kaman and post-happy swingmen Mobley and Ross, Maggette got a chance to find the space to slash and find open holes. Tonight, going to the rim, he looked like Barry Sanders. And when he wasn't driving, he was draining from the arc.
- Quinton Ross, a Clipperblog favorite, went 8-11 in the first half. He destroyed Steve Nash, demolished him on both ends of the court.
Elton was his usual paragon of consistency (14-21, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 assists for 30 points) and Kaman was a beast in the post despite turning the ball over four times, but the story of the game was a couple of guys who will be battling it out for the hearts and minds of the Clipper brain trust this off-season for the starting SF position for the 2006-2007 season.
Let's break down first Q's first half possessions, then Corey's boffo game:
First Q ...
- Right out of the gate, the Clippers swing it around the perimeter and Ross, being guarded by Nash, passes it into Mobley in the post against Raja Bell. Ross then cuts to the hoop - but Nash decides to double Mobley. So Ross, all alone, works back to Mobley so that Cat can drop it to him right on the block. An uncontested 10-footer by Q. (1st, 11:40)
- Off a non-shooting foul, Ross inbounds the ball to Kaman who leaves it back with Ross. Nash picks up Q, but when Brand sets up just behind Stevie, he backs off Ross, leaving him with a wide open 16-footer. (1st, 7:52)
- Brand has the ball at the top of the circle one-on-one against Thomas. Freezing the frame here at :16, the Clips have the floor spaced beautifully - Maggette on the left block, Livingston on the left wing, Ross on the right wing, Vlad in the right corner. As Elton drives toward the rim, Vlad shifts up to Q's spot and Q breaks to the basket - only Nash doesn't follow him the whole way, stopping to provide help on EB in the lane. When EB recognizes the double-team here and Q all alone under the basket, he sends it priority. Easy lay-in. Credit EB. (1st, 3:00)
- Nothing elaborate. Maggette dumps it into Ross on the right middle post against Nash. Q backs him in, spins left into the lane and buries an easy 6-footer. Abuse. (1st, 2:25)
- When Brand gets caught in the double-team on the baseline with :05 left on the shot clock, the ball gets kicked out, then slung around the perimeter. The hot potato ends up in the hands of Q, and with the clock expiring, it's on him to launch the contested, off-balanced 18-footer. This is his only miss of the half (1st, 1:09)
- Sometimes against PHX, it really isn't that complicated. I'm not being snide here, but I think the most loyal Suns fan would confess that they give up a great deal defensively. Here it's as simple as Q drawing Nash up from the baseline, then quickly cutting back, receiving a nice lob from Sam. Layup. (2nd, 5:33)
- Again, same sequence. Ross has ridiculous position on Nash deep on the right post. Cassell sees it. We all see it. No help from Jones or Thomas or Truck Robinson. An easy 8-footer. (2nd, 4:50)
- Shaun gets it into EB on the side post. The double team comes quickly this time - Thomas (EB's man) and Barbosa. But, again, good recognition from Elton as he dribbles out and gets it back to Vlad on the perimeter, who resets. Vlad sees Ross one-on-one against Nash on the left wing and it's an open invitation. Q backs him in to about 15 feet, spins and hits. (2nd, 1:13)
- The harder you work, the luckier you get. A broken play at the end of the half as the Clips fumble the ball upcourt with only six seconds left. Ross picks up the Vlad deflection, heaves it up from about 21 feet and it goes down. He has 16 in the half. (2nd, 0:00)
Corey Maggette was decisive but not impulsive, irrepressible but not impatient. It was beautiful, vintage Maggette - an athlete molding his talents to the contours of the game.
It didn't get started until he hit a couple of free throws four minutes into the 2nd quarter. Let's take a look:
- Again, the Clips love posting against Barbosa and Nash, and here Maggette gets his first look against Leandro - then actually draws the double team from Nash. Corey works it in, goes up, gets fouled. Though the shot doesn't fall, he hits both free throws.
Corey finishes the night 9-9 from the stripe. (2nd, 7:58)
- When Kaman grabs the rebound off the Marion miss, he kicks it out to Sam who gets it ahead to Maggette in the open floor. He has only Barbosa to beat. What's interesting is that Corey pauses, takes stock of the floor, stutter-steps, then performs a killer cross-over that gets Barbosa off-balance. Corey lunges toward the basket, hits the layup and draws the contact from Barbosa. Three-point play. (2nd, 7:24)
- Corey skies for a rebound off the Nash miss and goes coast-to-coast for a driving layup. He makes sure, of course, to draw the contact from Diaw as he lays it in. Totally in control, almost deliberate - or as deliberate as you can be flying solo from one end of the court to the other. And one. (2nd, 6:10)
- Brand gets caught in the air trying to shoot over the double-team. He realizes a pass out to Maggette is the wiser choice and finds Corey on the arc. Corey catches the pass, dribbles to the top of the circle where he's met by Bell. Corey pulls a Sam and draws two free throws, sinking them both. (2nd, 4:16)
- Into EB in the post. When the Suns double, EB kicks it back up top to Shaun who then swings it over to Q.
In the second half, the Suns adjust and do a much better job of closing on Ross, and that open shot isn't there. Q goes 1-4 in the 2nd half.
Ross dumps it into Kaman on the low post and when the Suns' defense starts to converge below the line, Corey drifts out to the arc. Kaman's pass is a little off, but Corey runs it down and, still, there's nobody around. He launches the 20-footer. Silky smooth. (3rd, 2:13)
- It's not the first time tonight that Mobley has eagerly posted Bell on the low block. Raja is a good defender and it wouldn't seem to warrant a double-team, but Jones leaves Maggette to help. This leaves Corey wide open up top. The moment Jones comes over, Mobley spots it. He zips the ball over the Corey. Three. (4th, 11:14)
- Mobley blocks Barbosa's layup attempt and this launches the Clips in transition. Livingston ahead to Maggette, who goes up strong and is assaulted by Bell ... the prick. Corey sinks both. (4th, 10:06)
- Pretty basic: Livingston to Maggette, who dumps it into Brand on the left side post. Brand dribbles toward the corner, drawing Barbosa away from Maggette. Normally, this is a tough pass for Elton to make, but against the Lilliputians, he finds Maggette with ease. There isn't enough time for Bell to rotate up and Maggette drains the three. (4th, 8:53)
- Same damned play, but this time a defender closes quickly on Maggette, but Corey anticipates it brilliantly - he knows it's coming. So as Marion sprints out to the arc, Maggette drives past the Matrix in the other direction. Very Roadrunner/Wile E. (4th, 6:48)
- Maggette dumps it into the left post and Brand. When the double team arrives, Brand kicks it back out to Corey -- classic two-man game we saw a lot last year. This time Corey misses -- his only miss of the night...from anywhere. (4th, 5:52)
- Interesting little set here. Cassell and EB set up for the ol' bread-and-butter side screen roll, so the Suns load up defensively on the left side. But instead of going into EB in the post, Cassell delivers a bullet pass to Maggette up top on the weak side. There's very little between Corey and the basket and he gets there at the speed of light, drawing the foul on Barbosa for good measure. (4th, 4:05)
We've got two weeks until Game Seven, so we'll have plenty of time to discuss potential adjustments, the greatest hits of the series thus far and who will rip the most deadly brainfart down the stretch.
Most random interesting bit of minutiae of the night. Out on the smoking patio at halftime, we learned that fans in their red Clippers Nacion tees should avoid Highland Park....just sayin'... don't be wearing no crimson at the Mudpuppy...we have it on reliable sources. Clipperblog isn't sure which gang colors rule Echo Park, but he pretty much rocks neutrals.