For the first time in a long while, the Clips are able to play off Chris Kaman to create a free-flowing offense in the halfcourt - similar to what they were able to accomplish in the first half against Milwaukee last week.
Tonight, Kaman establishes himself in the first half in the post - and well off it - so Sacramento has no choice after halftime but to send double-teams at him.
The best set of the night:
[3rd, 7:23] The Clips are down five. Kaman blocks Mikki Moore's layup attempt on the other end. Knight brings it up in the halfcourt, with Thomas, Maggette, and Ross scattered along the perimeter, and Kaman posting up high against Miller on the right side.
The ball goes into Kaman, Ross slides along the baseline to the left side, Maggette shifts up, and Knight moves low to set a down screen for Thomas to free him up. Beno Udrih falls off Knight to double Kaman. Knight's screen ain't much, but it's enough to give Thomas some open space near the left elbow, and now Ron Artest has to decide if he's going to pick up Thomas or stay on Maggette in the perimeter.
So already you see how the Clips' motion in the halfcourt is compromising Sacramento's defense - and all it took was an entry pass, a pissant little screen from 4' 11" Brevin Knight, and some well-timed movement. This isn't to impugn Sacramento's defense; it's just that, you know, basketball isn't as hard a game as the Clips have been making it look for the past couple of weeks.
Kaman holds it against Miller in the mid-post right side. When Udrih comes and Thomas finds that open space at the elbow, Chris kicks it over to Thomas. Artest - who's still an amazing defender if completely psychotic - sees where Chris is going before Chris does and he attentively closes on Thomas. Thomas wastes no time in immediately darting the ball over to an open Maggette. But Udrih closes quickly on Corey; so Chris reposts one-on-one against Miller at the same spot as before.
With Maggette well-placed now, you can see Udrih hedging: Does he double low again on Kaman and leave Maggette open along the arc? Or does he give Chris a one-on-one against Miller, whom he's been eating alive all night? Eventually Udrih makes the decision to double Kaman again.
Now Chris has a few choices:  Try to beat the double-team. Reasonable enough.  Kick it back to Corey, who has moved near the top of the arc.  Hit Thomas - who is diving through the lane because Artest has to patrol everything from the stripe and above.
Chris makes a great pass to a cutting Thomas. Moore collapses on Thomas, but it's too late. Thomas kisses the layup off the glass and goes to the line for the traditional three-point play.
The success here is born out of variety. There aren't any bad decisions for Chris to make because all three options are high-percentage shots. When left wide open, Corey can nail that 22-footer; Though we often forget - and so does he - Thomas can move off the ball and be a slasher. And needless to say, Chris against a Miller-Udrih double-team is not a bad choice either.
There are some other promising indicators: Mobley looks like he's healing; Maggette has a tough cover with Artest, but manages to grind out a productive night even though it won't go down on his reel; Patterson approximates a productive offensive option; and Knight is hitting that open 15-footer finally; Even Thomas expands his game - he's solid on the glass and makes some quality passes; Thornton still needs some polishing, but it's fun to watch that quick release of his.