Thursday, April 20, 2006 

Some Final Regular-Season Stats

Before fixing our gaze permanently on the playoffs, some breakdowns of the Clips' regular-season record:

Mondays: 6-3 (Home: 4-1; Road: 2-2)
Tuesdays: 6-8 (Home: 4-3; Road: 2-5)
Wednesdays: 10-8 (Home: 5-1; Road: 5-7)
Thursdays: 1-1 (Home: 0-0; Road: 1-1)
Fridays: 11-5 (Home: 5-2; Road: 6-3)
Saturdays: 8-2 (Home: 7-2; Road: 1-0)
Sundays: 5-8 (Home: 2-5; Road: 3-3)

Day: 6-1 (Home: 5-1; Road: 1-0)
Night: 41-34 (Home: 22-13; Road: 19-21)

vs. Eastern Conference: 20-10
vs. Atlantic: 7-3
vs. Central: 4-6
vs. Southeast: 9-1

vs. Western Conference: 27-25
vs. Northwest: 14-4
vs. Pacific: 7-9
vs. Southwest: 6-12

Games decided by:
1: 1-0
2: 2-3
3: 3-2
4: 3-3
5: 2-2
6: 2-2
7: 1-2
8: 6-2
9: 3-0
10: 3-5
11: 1-1
12: 3-1
13: 3-1
14: 3-1
15: 3-1
16: 0-2
17: 2-2
18: 1-0
19: 1-1
20: 0-1
22: 1-1
24: 1-0
26: 1-0
31: 0-2
33: 1-0

Combined record of UTA, POR, SAN and NOK (Northwest and Southwest Division teams the Clips played only three times each): 163-165
Combined record of the six Northwest and Southwest teams the Clips played four times each: 255-237 -- Jordan

 

CLIPS HAVE 20/21 ROAD VISION

The Clips set a new franchise record with their 20th road win, defeating the Dallas Mavericks, 85-71. The Mavs' 71 points represented a season low and allowed the Clips to avert a four-game season-series sweep. Only Sacramento took four from the Clips this year; Detroit and Indiana both swept the Clips 2-0. The Clips also kept the Mavs from setting a new franchise high of 61 wins.

The game marked the re-re-return of Corey Maggette after his bout with a herniated disc. Corey looked like the Maggs of old, leading all scorers and six Clips in double figures with an 18-and-11 double-double in 27 quality minutes. Chris Kaman had 14, Walter McCarty another dozen, Daniel Ewing 11, and Vin Baker and Cuttino Mobley 10 apiece. Elton Brand and Sam Cassell rested, while Vladimir Radmanovic (groin) and Zeljko Rebraca (back) nursed injuries.

Quick thoughts: ...Don't be too impressed by the American Airlines flight vouchers fans received. They're valid for a very limited time and only on flights from Love Field to one of four cities near Dallas. This isn't like Oprah screaming, "EVERYBODY WINS A CAR!!! EVERYBODY WINS A CAR!!!"...Pavel Podkolzine saw his only action of the season. When the huge Siberian took the court for a preseason contest at Staples Center, the "Bob-Bob-Bob-Bob-Bobby Simmons" guys yelled, "IT'S ALIVE!!!" and "BASKETBALL GOOD!!!"...

Off topic...Tawana Brawley Redux: I rarely stray from the Clipper beat, but what's happening in Durham, North Carolina is a travesty of justice. This woman doesn't want to spend the night in the pokey on a public drunkenness rap, so she makes up a transparently false story that ruins the lives of at least two innocent boys. The politically correct sheep (and the emo guys looking for a sympathy score) immediately start conducting "vigils." Mike Nifong, who like most district attorneys lacks any moral compass, ignores DNA tests that absolve the boys of wrongdoing and charges them with crimes just this side of capital. Spare a thought for the boys and their families, who will be haunted by this woman's lies long after they unravel. Meanwhile, I only hope my Duke Lacrosse t-shirt arrives in time for the playoffs. -- Jordan

Wednesday, April 19, 2006 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR CLIPS

The Clips secured home-court advantage in their first-round playoff series with the Denver Nuggets by virtue of Memphis' 101-95 victory at FedEx Forum last night. Round One will open at Staples Center this weekend, after the Clips complete the regular season with tonight's meaningless matchup with the Mavericks in Dallas.

The Clips did anything but tank against the Grizzlies. After trailing by as many as 22, the Clips pulled to within three, 96-93, on a pair of Daniel Ewing free throws with 29 seconds remaining. But a Mike Miller threeball on the next trip down sealed both teams' playoff fates. Still, the Clips beat the eight-point spread -- and actually played their All-Star, while Mike Fratello sat Pau Gasol with a "sore foot" that will miraculously heal by the weekend.

The players on the court wanted and tried to win the game. To that end, James Singleton annihilated his previous career high with a game-high 23 points on 8-11 shooting (including 5-6 3FGs). Walter McCarty continued to impress with 12 on 4-6 FGs. Ewing added nine, Zeljko Rebraca eight, and Vin Baker and Boniface N'Dong six apiece.

Tonight's mission is to get Corey Maggette some playing time, rest whoever wants or needs rest, and get out of Big D without getting hurt. With that accomplished, we can turn our attention to the Nuggets next. Click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion. -- Jordan

Monday, April 17, 2006 

"CLIPPERS GET THE REAL SWEET LOSS"

Okay, so Ralph Lawler didn't say that last night, but he may as well have, as the Clips won by losing, 114-98, to the Seattle Sonics. They failed to complete a first-ever four-game sweep of the Sonics and matched but did not beat last season's best-ever home record of 27-14.

Still, they got what they wanted. Coach Dunleavy rested Chris Kaman and Cuttino Mobley, while limiting Elton Brand and Sam Cassell to 27 and 24 minutes, respectively. Shaun Livingston did match a career high with 18 points on 7-9 FGs in a team-high 29 minutes, while Walter McCarty contributed 12 on 5-8 in 14. Most important, nobody got hurt (Yarik Korolev did tweak an ankle late) and the Clips moved closer to securing the sixth seed.

To avoid moving up to 5 and a first-round matchup with the Dallas Mavericks, the Clips now need any of the following to transpire: 1) a loss at Memphis tomorrow, 2) a loss at Dallas Wednesday, or 3) a Memphis victory at Minnesota Wednesday. Check out the Grizzlies' Fan Forum and you'll find their partisans clamoring for the five; I suppose when you've never won in Denver (or a playoff game, period), you don't want to draw the Nuggets in Round One.

Anybody who complains about losing the last home game -- on Fan Appreciation Night, no less -- doesn't get it. When you buy tickets to game #80, you have to know you're gonna see an exo, or what in tennis we call a hit-and-giggle.

And on the much-ballyhooed idea of needing to take "momentum" into the postseason, Sam Cassell has the last word: "I don't buy momentum, every game is different. We're not playing bad basketball, we're playing enough basketball to get through." Actually, I might have worried a bit myself -- until they came back from 22 down to defeat Denver and routed the Suns in Phoenix the next night.

Click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion. -- Jordan

Sunday, April 16, 2006 

CLIPS HAVE ALL THEIR DUCKS IN A ROW

Down 18 in the second quarter Friday night, the Clips rallied to defeat the Seattle Sonics, 101-97, securing perhaps the key win of the season at Key Arena. With Denver's loss to Sacramento and Memphis' win in Houston last night, the Clips can safely rest their key players, lose out, and assure themselves the 6 spot and home-court advantage in a first-round playoff series with the Nuggets.

The story of the game was the rebirth of Cuttino Mobley. Cat connected on 7-10 FGs, including 4-5 at the arc, for 18 points, six assists and four rebounds. Elton Brand led the Clips with 30 and 15 on 10-20 FGs and a perfect 10-10 at the line, and Chris Kaman contributed 20 and 12 on 63.6% FGs. Not many teams in the league can cope with that potent a frontcourt tandem. Sam Cassell ended with 14 on 40% FGs, missing a lot of bad shots before coming through in the clutch again.

The Sonics built a 58-40 Q2 lead on unconscious shooting by Rashard Lewis, Earl Watson and especially Ray Allen, who made five threeballs in the frame en route to a game-high 33 points (Lewis and Watson ended with 20 apiece). But with Quinton Ross on Allen in the second half, Ray Ray wasn't the same player. And after erasing a 22-point deficit against Denver last week, defending their way back into this ballgame was child's play for the Clips.

Here's how the scenarios play out heading into tonight's game against these same Sonics at Staples Center:
-- If the Clips lose at Memphis Tuesday, they get 6th-and-home-court regardless of whatever else happens.
-- If the Clips lose tonight but win at Memphis, they get 6th-and-home with either a loss at Dallas or a Memphis win at Minnesota Wednesday.
-- If the Clips win tonight and at Memphis, they get 6th-and-home only if both they lose at Dallas and Memphis wins at Minnesota.

Mike Dunleavy has talked about the importance of home court. Now that the Clips have secured it, it's time to sit out the starters (Cat practically begged for rest in a postgame interview Friday night) and avoid putting their playoff fate in Mike Fratello's hands. On Fan Appreciation Night, this fan would appreciate nothing more than a heavy dose of Vin Baker, Daniel Ewing, Yaroslav Korolev, Walter McCarty, and Boniface N'Dong.

Click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion. -- Jordan

Thursday, April 13, 2006 

HOW SWEEP IT IS FOR CLIPS

Finally, a team the Clippers can beat. The Trail Blazers took the positives, but the Clips took the W last night at Staples Center, 97-93, completing the first season sweep of Portland in their history in too-close-for-comfort fashion. With the victory, the team equals a Clipper record for most wins with 45.

Brad Gilbert would be proud, because the Clips won this one ugly. They allowed 45.6% shooting by a balanced Blazer attack that saw eight men score seven or more points. Portland competed evenly with the playoff-bound Clips in most categories in a game that featured four ties and 15 lead changes.

Elton Brand led the way for L.A. with 25 points on 12-16 shooting, evoking memories of the E.B. who was a first-half contender for league MVP. Sam Cassell posted a 19-point, 10-assist double-double on poor shooting, while Chris Kaman contributed 14 and 11 but continued to put the ball on the floor unnecessarily. Cuttino Mobley, overdue for a good game, made 3-4 FGs and 7-8 FTs for 13.

Afterward, Nate McMillan said, "I do respect the way this team played tonight. These young guys came out and fought and played together. All the things we've been talking about all season long. We got that tonight." Mike Dunleavy, meanwhile, bemoaned his veterans' inconsistency and lack of toughness. A win's a win, but we'd all like to see more energy and better execution, greater urgency and a sense of purpose with the playoffs nigh at hand and Corey Maggette out indefinitely with a herniated disc.

Still, the Clips sit in the catbird seat at sixth, .5 games behind Memphis and 1.5 games ahead of Denver for home court. With the Nuggets' loss last night in Utah, they'll need two more wins in their last three (vs. SAC, vs. HOU, @ SEA) than the Clips cull in their final four (@ SEA, vs. SEA, @ MEM, @ DAL). A sweep of Seattle would secure home court if the Clips stay at 6, but Chris Wilcox's Sonics -- with recent wins over San Antonio, Phoenix and Memphis -- aren't the same team the Clips last faced three months ago to the day.

Click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion. -- Jordan

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 

CLIPPERS FIND NEW GEAR FOR PLAYOFFS: REVERSE

This team's in trouble, folks. Forget about rolling into the playoffs; the Clippers are limping -- slouching -- to the finish line and playing several notches below any other playoff team in the West. After last night's 75-73 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, the Clippers are firmly and finally entrenched in the 6 spot and will have to raise their level appreciably to retain home court.

A rash of injuries to key players -- and the extreme fatigue of others -- haven't helped the Clippers' cause. As Blanche once told Dorothy on The Golden Girls, "Good grief -- this place looks like a hospital ward!" Corey Maggette missed his third consecutive game with back spasms (about which more below), while Sam Cassell (flu) and Vladimir Radmanovic (groin) made cameo appearances so short not even Dame Judi Dench could wring an Oscar nomination out of them.

The extended minutes played by Elton Brand and Cuttino Mobley throughout the season have come back to haunt both men. Brand scored 13 points on 4-15 shooting, while Mobley missed nine of his 13 attempts for 10 points. They're both running on fumes, and Cat's recent ankle sprain continues to give him discomfort. If you're willing to concede home court to Denver, maybe you start resting these guys now.

As the final score indicates, the game was so ugly you'd think the New York Knicks had to be involved somehow. But Avery Johnson sounded happier than an exaltation of larks to sneak out of Staples with a win on a night when Dirk Nowitzki shot 6-19, Josh Howard 3-13, and Jerry Stackhouse 2-11.

The Clippers came out with great defensive intensity, building a 12-point advantage and leading 26-17 after one. But the Mavericks won the second quarter 33-14 and held a 50-40 halftime edge. The Clippers fought back valiantly to tie the game at 73 on a Shaun Livingston free throw with 17 seconds to play, but Nowitzki hit a last-second 18-footer to put the Mavs ahead 3-0 in the season series.

Without fueling the reckless rumors that Maggette's injury is actually a bad case of hurt feelings by a unwilling sixth man (which would make Maggs a Bigger Baby than a shrewdness of Glen Davises), at best it's poorly timed. To wrest home court back from the Clippers, Denver needs only one more win in their final four games (UTA, SAC, HOU and SEA) than the Clips collect in their last five (POR, SEA x 2, MEM and DAL). One thing's for sure: 73 points won't beat anybody.

Click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion. -- Jordan


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