There’s something a little jarring about seeing a reassembled team in box score form for the first time. Minus Marcus Camby, who sat out last night’s game in Fresno, what you saw [heard?]
¹ last night is a pretty close approximation of what the Clips will unveil on the 29th in their regular season opener. It’s still far too early to gauge what kind of product the Clippers will produce night in and night out, but the assembly of players up and down the box score reveals a balanced mix of guys in their prime, capable scorers, skilled grown-ups, and a smattering of young talent. Again, there’s no telling whether this is a unified NBA roster or merely a jumble of spare parts. But scanning that box score, what stands out is depth, something the Clippers – either due to stinginess or bad planning – have traditionally lacked.
Clips fans who want to see the team outrun the opposition and push the ball in transition had to be impressed. Baron Davis paced the Clips early; Jason Hart worked a bit more deliberately – but was effective; then Mike Taylor went to the races. Taylor has always produced glowing scouting reports. In Ames, Iowa State fans gushed that the CC-transfer might surpass Jamaal Tinsley in sheer athleticism and raw talent. But Taylor flunked out of school and found himself on the Idaho Stampede for the 2007-08 season. Last night was a good encapsulation of Taylor’s game – minus the 3PMs. Taylor’s instinctive ability to weave his way through the defense en route to the hole was on full display. So was his tendency to cough up the ball in transition. Taylor is still extremely young – just 22 – and he demonstrated last night that he offers the Clips a solid option – if tenuous handle – off the bench.
Whatever they get or don’t get from the bench, the Clippers will succeed or fail this season on the shoulders of Baron Davis. Last night, Davis dispensed, in the words of Lisa Dillman, “a heavy dose of vocal leadership.” He also dished out seven dimes – three to Tim Thomas, two to Al Thornton, and one each to Ricky Davis and Chris Kaman -- and only two turnovers in a mere 18 minutes.
Paul Davis returned and produced 15 minutes of solid basketball – hitting a couple of shots just the left of the basket and another face-up jumper, inexplicably, from 20 feet. Nice to see.
You think maybe, just maybe, there’s a measurable television audience for a Clippers-Lakers preseason game in which Baron Davis makes his debut? I mean, the game was in Fresno…not Fairbanks.