I'm stumped.  Seriously.  The Clippers were without two of their three best defensive guards, their second-best all-around defender, and still managed to hold the Pacers to 38.6% from the field.  On top of that, they didn't defend the arc in the first half and gave up a flurry of wide open shots.

Offensively, the Clippers had several static possessions, and their reserves went 4-26 from the floor.  But they still managed to deliver a wholesale ass-whooping to a 3-0 team.


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This factors in shots that resulted in a trip to the line.  The Pacers guard the weak side wing extremely well, which probably explains Maggette’s relative low usage tonight. But they're a little slow in transition -- and Tinsley is small -- which explains some of Cassell's monster evening. Thornton was aggressive, and though he went only 3-13, I thought he made good decisions in the halfcourt, with a few exceptions.  Here are his three made shots, along with his three attempts that resulted in foul shots:

  • [2nd, 9:41] Paul Davis dumps it into Thornton in the post.  I like this.  Thornton isn't a post player, per se, but with his back to a defender, he has the ability to spin around his guy and drive to the hole.  Here, he spins toward the baseline, clutches once to work himself further in, goes up and draws contact.  Two shots.  He converts both.

  • [2nd, 8:08] Off an inbound play, the Clips work it around the perimeter – Maggette to Dickau to Thornton. Since Dunleavy is playing well off Thornton, Al launches the 3PA.  Good.  Considering the Clips have been a dreadful three-point shooting team, this is nice to see.

  • [2nd, 6:52] Dickau slows up a transition break and kicks it over to Thornton on the left side perimeter.  Jermaine O'Neal is on him.  He gets a good first step on O'Neal, drives into the lane, but puts up an awkward running right hook from about 12 feet.  I think he could've driven deeper.  The ball clanks off the rim.  Patterson collects it, but blows the wide open layup.  The ball caroms back to Thornton and he lays it up and in. 

    As we discussed before, I like Thornton in the iso, particularly when Dunleavy has him at the 4 and he's matched up against a bigger PF.

  • [2nd, 1:22]  Cassell drives into the paint.  Thornton is on the weak side perimeter, matched up against Shawne Williams.  Williams leaves to double and collapse on Cassell, who is quick to recognize it.  He darts the ball over to Thornton, who pump-fakes as Granger comes to challenge, then dribbles past him to get closer in.  He hits the 15-foot jump shot at the foul lane.

    Great, heady play by Thornton.  With Granger flying out to get a hand in Al's Face, Thornton knew that Granger's momentum would carry him past Thornton.

  • [2nd, 0:26]  We spoke about how, as he matures, Thornton will learn how to fill space.  That's exactly what he does in this set:  He's set up on the weak side perimeter. Cassell drives past Deiner, but then gets trapped along the baseline.  The Indiana defense has shifted and sagged to the strong side.  When they do, Thornton cuts to the right elbow, where he gets himself wide open.  Somehow Cassell finds him.  Thornton takes a long first step, launches from the smiley-face, gets in close, goes up in traffic and draws contact.  He hits both foul shots.

  • [3rd, 9:42]  On this set, Thornton is moving well off the ball.  While Cassell hold it up top, Thornton glides left-to-right along the baseline with Granger guarding him.  He then stakes out a spot on the right side arc.  Granger sags off him.  But when Kaman kicks the ball out to him from the post, it's a repeat of a previous set when Granger has to run back to pick him up.  Again, Thornton uses Granger's momentum against him and flies by the defender, drives to the basket and draws contact.  He hits both free throws.

We're seeing a very heady offensive player who knows how to create shots for himself in the halfcourt.  Despite finishing with a 3-13 line from the field, Thornton had his best night at a pro.

I don't mean to bury the lede -- Sam Cassell's performance.  But what is there to say really?  About every three weeks, the guy goes unconscious.  Were they well drawn out shots?  Not particularly.  But he has a license to freelance, and that's exactly what you want him to do when he's feeling like he felt tonight.