It was the kind of scrum you see countless times in an NBA game, but Jamal Magloire's unintentional clip of Elton's shoulder in the first quarter seemed to hobble EB all night, though - All-Star that he is - he managed to pitch in: Five blocks, four assists, two steals. With the contributions of Ross, Kaman and Maggette, the Clippers didn't need him tonight, and this offers a small measure of comfort. Dallas - despondent, frustrated, a generally pissed off at the world - is going to demand EB at full strength.  Jason Powell, go to work.  

Nate McMillan showed his coaching chops tonight.  Watching the Clippers decimate Portland's man-to-man defense early in the first quarter, he had the Blazers fall back into a matchup zone that took the Clippers about a full quarter to bust. 

How to beat the zone:

(8:05, 2nd)  Down one, the Clips bring it up [Livingston-Maggette-Ross-Thomas-Kaman].  Shaun & TT set up on the perimeter, Ross and Maggette on the wings, with Kaman in the high post.  TT (left top) passes it over to Ross (left wing).  Then, Maggette cuts from the right wing over to the left block, situating himself between Ross and the basket.  Randolph must now attend to Corey, so when Ross beats Webster baseline, it's too late for Randolph to get there and Kaman's guy - Travis Outlaw - is too far away from the play (remember, Kaman set up high) to do anything about it either.  In short, the Clippers skillfully overload the zone so that there just aren't enough Blazers in close proximity to defend them.

I won't spend too much time, lest I blow the lid off Henry Abbott's 500-word hosanna, an assignment he is now charged with since the Clippers covered the spread.  Tomorrow, Henry will sing the praises of the Los Angeles Clippers - to the extent he can find any after tonight's sleepwalk.

Examining the box score, there are some nice things to take away.  The Clips chalked up 25 assists and they were distributed nicely.  Kaman's footwork was the stuff of last season's breakout.  Corey: Rebounding Fiend and newfound high-percentage man. Cat found a groove, hitting from the perimeter and working his man inside.  Q. Ross gave the Clips a lot on the offensive end and, most important, was comfortable taking advantage of the primo space he was afforded by Portland as the make-him-beat-you guy. 

Zach Randolph is impossible to defend.  It takes him a nanosecond to establish a physical advantage over a defender on the block.  In the event that you're actually able to defend the driving lane, well, he'll just step back and hit from 18.  So what do you do?  Concede the 35 and make sure your rotations are tight.  What else can you do?

Watch this space for Henry Abbott's charity roast of the Los Angeles Clippers.