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Wednesday, March 22, 2006 

LOSS HAS HIM BARKIN' MAD

Well, not really. But certainly better things have come out of the Crescent City than last night's 120-108 Clipper loss to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. Not their famous fried food -- you need a cast-iron stomach to eat that stuff -- but, for example, my favorite book, John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Pick it up sometime; if you don't laugh yourself hoarse, I'll buy it back from you.

Or, for instance, The Big Easy, one of the best films of 1987, with Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin, who was so sexy back in the day even I would have switched. Barkin appeared in a string of good movies around that time -- including Sea of Love opposite Al Pacino and the underrated Blake Edwards comedy Switch -- but my favorite line reading of hers came in Bad Company, after Frank Langella invited her to his lakeside retreat for a weekend of fishing. She leaned into his ear and whispered, "I don't want to fish. I want to fu*k."

But back to last night in Nawlins, where the Clippers' defense may have been the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. A brief review of the good, the bad and the ugly from the game:

The Good:
-- The Clips jumped out to a 12-3 lead and did a lot of things right. They shot 55.4% overall (including 4-5 by Quinton Ross), made seven threes, converted 90.5% of their free throws and outboarded the Bees, 37-35.
-- The Clips' bench continued to produce, paced by Corey Maggette's 25 on 9-15 FGs (3-6 3FGs) and Vladimir Radmanovic's 18 on 6-12 (4-7). The Clips' reserves outscored the Hornets', 45-31.
-- I love the way the Clips reacted to the loss. Take this excerpt from the Long Beach Press-Enterprise: "'We shouldn't have let these guys beat us, man,' said Clippers guard Cuttino Mobley, who later cursed and punched a locker." Sam Cassell and Maggs also lamented the team's lack of toughness. These guys hate to lose, and as an L.A. Kings fan, let me assure you not every professional athlete does.
-- Although the Clips are in no position to play Santa Claus and give games away, the Hornets and their fans have been through enough in the past year to derive special meaning from their win. Better, it moved the Hornets to within a game of the Lakers for the eighth spot in the West (which the Lakers' unbelievably cushy remaining schedule should allow them to retain).

The Bad:
-- The defense took the night off, particularly on the perimeter. I'm not overly concerned, because the Clips have been one of the top defensive teams in the league this season, but the Hornets shot 51.8% overall and an ungodly 54.5% (12-22) from behind the arc. As Ralph Lawler noted, "Dribble penetration is killing the Clippers."
-- Chris Kaman took the week off. After subpar outings against Philadelphia and at Houston, The Big Silly evacuated The Big Easy with an unimpressive six-point, four-rebound performance. Shaun Livingston also never showed up, missing three ugly shots in 13 forgettable minutes.
-- The Hornets dictated the tempo. Nobody will confuse them with the Phoenix Suns, but they play a similar run-and-gun style and the Clippers cooperated, taking 20 three-pointers. Although 35% went down, that's not the Clippers' game. They're first and foremost an inside-out team, and Elton Brand, who scored 24 on 15 shots, needed many more touches.
-- The Clippers made Rasual Butler look like an All-NBA first-teamer. ROY-to-be Chris Paul and David West ran a two-man game to the tune of 21 points apiece, but Butler -- after going 1-for-9 against Denver -- went off for a career-high 32 on 12-16 FGs (7-9 3FGs!) as the Clippers struggled with both the pick-and-roll and individual coverage. Butler later showed class by apologizing to the Clippers for taking a meaningless three-pointer as time expired.

The Ugly:
-- The stat of the night: the Clippers turned the ball over 19 times. As Ralph said, "You have to cherish the ball. Possession is more than nine points of the law, it's everything." Or, to quote Cat, "We had 19 turnovers and they got 34 points. What's left to say?"

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


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