Today is further evidence that Sam Cassell's rabbinic direction at the point is the key to a monster Elton Brand performance.  In the first half, Cassell assisted on three of EB's field goals and executed the side screen roll to perfection in a possession that yielded a trip to the line for Elton for two points.  It was more of the same in the fourth quarter, with another three Cassell assists on three EB FGs.  The thing to remember is that it's not just a matter of getting Elton going.  Sure, EB dropping 25+ will always bode well for the Clips.  But it's also about controlling every square foot of the offensive halfcourt.  When Elton gets the ball in the mid-left post early in the set, before the double-team, it opens up all kinds of space on the floor.  It allows the Clips' shooters - who, let's face it, are mid-range guys - creep closer in.  It often triggers a mismatch for Kaman on the weak side, particularly against small teams.  Shaun still has trouble facilitating that perfect, prompt entry into Elton, but Sam is the absolute master. 

Sam's scoring game was plenty sweet, too.  When Sam has a size advantage, he's insatiable on the offensive end.  Damon Stoudamire and Chucky Atkins were looking like a couple of Hanna-Barbera drumsticks in the halfcourt.  Cassell took every opportunity to shoot over and post the two undersized Memphis point guards and put together a 56% shooting day on 9-16.   

Q. Ross denied Mike Miller shots all day, as Miller went 2-5 in the first half with three turnovers.  The game turned in the second quarter not on any individual defensive matchup, but on the promptness of the rotation.  Since I've been riding both Corey Maggette's help defense and his instincts in the defensive rotation for as long as I remember, I think it's only fair to comment that, whether it's Dunleavy getting through to him or just a personal set of adjustments, Corey hasn't been nearly the defensive liability lately that he's been for most of his career here.   He almost doesn't suck.  Corey has always been an adequate isolation defender - with his combination of quickness and size, that's no surprise.  But he's making better decisions now in more intricate defensive sets. 

Not to pick at a guy who went 2-2 from the field - and maybe it's just me - but has Daniel Ewing lost some basketball IQ points since last season?  He's been making some horrendous decisions lately, exhibit A being the closing seconds of the first quarter today when he dribbled into a corner, slung a pass to nobody that resulted in a Chucky Atkins 3FG at the buzzer.[1]

The Clippers' next eight games, until they arrive in Cleveland, are all winnable in the conventional sense.[2]  If they can win the next three at home against Milwaukee, New Jersey and Minnesota, they'll top .500 for the first time since December 9. The T-Wolves have a vicious upcoming schedule: Eight of the next ten away, with the two home games coming against PHX and Sacramento.  As the standings begin to settle, it's becoming increasingly clear that Minnesota - and perhaps, perhaps Denver[3]  -- will be the Clips' opponent for the final playoff spot [or two] and the right to be throttled by Dallas, because Houston and the Lakers are clearly not coming back to the pack, cataclysmic injuries being the only remote exception. 


[1] Other than the couple games in Florida, Ewing has been turning the ball over at an unsettling rate any time he's gotten considerable minutes.  21 turnovers and 27 assists for the season.  Not too much of an issue...provided we don't need him down the stretch.  

[2] Every game is technically winnable, but for the sake of classification, let's call a winnable game (a) a road game against a losing team or (b) A home game against all but the most elite teams. 

[3] I know that current fashion resides in a certain schadenfreude over AI's struggles in Denver, but does anyone really believe that, once 'Melo returns, they won't be a team that wins about 60-65% of its games?