Saturday, March 04, 2006 

A Little Clippers news in the Morning

What a way to start your Saturday. A cup a joe, a bite to eat, maybe a little morning something something, and a whole lot of Clippers. Though Last night game was a tough loss, here are some articles from the local paper (whom incidentally are giving us more prep them bandwagoners). Here are offerings from the Times and Register. The Press Telegram are still full of haters and Kome Lovers so we won't get into them.,1,2982474.story?coll=la-headlines-sports,1,2982474.story?coll=la-headlines-sports

Also on the Clippers blotter is some news on Vlad Rad and Dun from the times.,1,5307309.story?coll=la-headlines-sports

Stay tuned Clippers lovers as I scour the web finding articles on the Clippers.


Friday, March 03, 2006 


One day after Charles Barkley suggested the Clippers could contend for the Western Conference crown, the team delivered a performance that made the national ESPN audience shrug its collective shoulders and say, as Queen Latifah sang in Fly Girl, "You must be mad." The Clippers simply didn't show up to play the Utah Jazz until too late, falling behind by fourteen midway through the second quarter before succumbing for the 33rd time in 34 games at the Delta Center, 105-103. A 96-89 decision on January 22, 2003 remains their only victory in Salt Lake City since April 18, 1989.

All indications had been that Jazz star Andrei Kirilenko would sit the game out with back spasms. When he took to the court for the warm-up, it seemed to cast a pall over the Clippers, as though they'd been expecting an easy win and weren't ready for a fight. The first quarter buttressed that theory, as the Clips fell behind by as many as eleven on some of their sloppiest play of the season. They would spend the rest of the night in a Sisyphean struggle to scale that mountain.

Elton Brand led all scorers with 31 but had more blocks (five) than rebounds (four), as the Clippers lost yet another battle of the boards. Vladimir Radmanovic posted a double-double with seventeen points (including 5-8 3FGs) and thirteen rebounds, but missed several key defensive rotations. After deferring to his teammates too much throughout the game, Sam Cassell erupted late to finish with sixteen points, including two free throws that knotted the game at 103 in the closing seconds before Deron Williams threw in the game-winning floater.

In his long-awaited return, Corey Maggette hit 3-11 FGs and 5-6 FTs in 25 minutes. He looked smaller than before and jacked up a number of bad shots either too early in the shot clock or when too well covered. As one poster wrote, "It's too bad Maggette didn't rehab his brain." We've all missed Maggs' aggressiveness and athleticism, but with Chris Wilcox gone, his low basketball IQ really stands out now on this squad.

Another returning Clipper, Chris Kaman had ten points (all in the first half) and eight rebounds. Too many times this year Chris has had big first quarters or first halves and disappeared after intermission a la Michael Olowokandi. He also made some bad passes that led to Jazz fastbreaks and missed a few rotations of his own (the Jazz had six dunks, the Clippers none). The Clippers' early lethargy manifested itself in a slowness to the ball and nonchalance with it that have become far too frequent in recent weeks.

Shaun Livingston had five points in fifteen minutes of relief but was pulled for good just as he hit his stride. Earlier, he had driven to the basket for what should have been an and-1, but as Ralph Lawler noted, "Shaun just cannot finish AT ALL." He missed the easy layup and missed three of four foul shots. Shaun really needs to stay after practice to work on his FTs. Meanwhile, Coach Dunleavy may have stayed too long with Walter McCarty, who did nothing good on either end of the court in his eleven minutes. James Singleton wasn't a DNP-CD; he was on the inactive list and appears -- inexplicably to us outsiders -- to have replaced Wilcox in Dun's doghouse. Quinton Ross saw just 35 seconds of late action as a defensive stopper.

For the game, L.A. -- who entered as the league's best defensive team -- allowed Utah to shoot 47.6% overall and 58.3% from beyond the arc. The Clips actually executed with equivalent efficiency (48.6% overall and 52.9% 3FGs); the difference was that, thanks to four more offensive rebounds (12-8) and six fewer turnovers (8-14), the Jazz generated twelve more shots (84-72) and five more makes (40-35).

Mehmet Okur absolutely torched the Clippers with 29 points on 11-16 shooting, including a dagger threeball in the final minute. And Kirilenko, despite only eight points, set the tone early with his blocks and steals as the Jazz outworked the Clippers from the opening tip. Each team ended with six players in double figures, but the Jazz bench outscored the Clipper reserves, 36-17.

Even with AK-47 in the Jazz lineup, the Clippers are clearly the superior team on paper. When your franchise is finally good -- as the Clippers are -- it's so important to go out and get wins in places and against teams that have had your number. It gets the monkey off your back and frees you to make new mental and muscular memories. The Clippers did it earlier in Portland but have squandered chances against Sacramento and now Utah and have quietly lost five straight on the road.

They'll return to the friendly confines of Staples Center for an Oscar Night clash with the Grizzlies and will have to hope the Lakers tire the Spurs out Monday ahead of their matchup with San Antonio on Tuesday. Meanwhile, click on Clipper Talk and join the discussion. -- Jordan


Video - Elton Brand taunting Phil Jackson

After stealing the ball and dunking it, Elton Brand taunts Phil Jackson by advising him to call a timeout.


Thursday, March 02, 2006 


Like a bad actor, the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets refused to follow the script. It was Elton Brand Bobblehead Night at Staples Center. It was Hardwood Classics Night. It was supposed to be one long party for Clipper fans. But four minutes into the third quarter, Byron Scott's front line of P.J. Brown, David West and (tonight's Clipper All-Star) Desmond Mason had exposed the Chris Kaman-less Clips' lack of interior defense en route to a 59-49 lead that threatened to rewrite the happy ending.

That's when Coach Dunleavy implemented a 2-3 half-court zone, and for the Hornets, time stood still. 59-49 became 59-52, 59-55, 59-56, 59-57, 59-59, 59-61, 59-62, 59-64, 59-66, 59-68, 59-70, 59-71, 59-72, 59-74. The Hornets, who don't play again until Monday, will have five long, sleepless nights to see the number 59 in their nightmares. They didn't score for 12:41 of playing time and went without a basket for 14:19. After shooting 55% in the first half, they shot under 15% (5 of 34) in the second to set a shot-clock era record for fewest points in a half with sixteen. The Clips won the last twenty minutes, 40-8, and the game, 89-67.

The Clips have been a good third quarter team all season, but never this good. During their historic defensive stand, they clogged the lane and forced the Hornets to take tough outside shots. How tough? The Hornets shot 0.0% (0 of 9) from the arc. Anytime the Bees tried to penetrate in the paint, the Clips' bigs shut them down. On several possessions the official scorer had his choice of three or four Clips to credit with a block. If you love great, smothering defense as I do -- I'd take it over highlight-reel dunks any day -- be sure to record the game when FSN2 re-airs it at 1 p.m. Thursday.

EB led the way offensively on his night with 25 and 7 on 61.1% FGs. Sam Cassell contributed fifteen and Cuttino Mobley fourteen on more mediocre shooting. Vladimir Radmanovic had eight, all in the first few minutes, but added nine rebounds and five assists after Mason took him out of the offense with two early fouls.

Zeljko Rebraca, subbing for Kaman at the starting 5, posted seven points, as did Walter McCarty, whose energy and veteran savvy fueled the Clips' defensive run. Waltah's seven boards helped the Clips come back from an almost double-digit deficit in that department to outrebound Oklahoma City 41-37. Shaun Livingston turned in a solid performance at both ends of the court, finishing with eight points (on 66.7% shooting), five assists, four blocks and three rebounds.

With the win, the Clips sweep the three-game homestand to improve their home record to 20-9, seventh-best in the NBA (as is their RW-HL mark of +4). They owe the road two games (Phoenix owes the road six) and will give one back Friday night at Utah, another longtime house of horrors. The nationally televised jam with the Jazz will mark the return of Corey Maggette. Quinton Ross may also suit up and it's possible, though unlikely, that Kaman could be back. Given the caliber of opponent they'll face when they get back home (Memphis and San Antonio), the Clips must find a way to distill a win in Salt Lake.

Quick thoughts: ...If the Clips hadn't scored in the fourth, they'd still have won -- by one...On Dec. 14, the Clips' 89 points made for a thirteen-point loss in OKC. The same 89 points tonight were good enough for a 22-point win...If Dunleavy and Scott remain in the COTY race at season's end, Dun's supporters can point to tonight's game as Exhibit A...Click on ClipperTalk and join the discussion! -- Jordan

Monday, February 27, 2006 


If NBA games lasted 50 minutes rather than 48, Charlotte might have come all the way back from the 21 points down they found themselves midway through the third quarter tonight at Staples Center. Time ran out on the Bobcats, though, keeping them 0-for-the Clippers in their two-year history after the 95-87 defeat. But the Clips never have it easy with Charlotte: their four wins in the series include one in double overtime, another on a last-second Shaun Livingston layup, and two ugly eight- and nine-point wins this season.

Elton Brand led the way, as he usually does, with 35 points and ten rebounds on 15-23 shooting. (He started 10-13.) Sam Cassell emerged from his slump with a double-double of his own: eighteen points and eleven assists along with four steals. (Brevin Knight's double-double was even more impressive: twelve points and a jaw-dropping seventeen assists.) Cuttino Mobley hit just 3-10 FGs but got to the line more than anyone and finished with fourteen points as the Clips' third option.

Vladimir Radmanovic cooled off a bit from the Laker game but ended only one rebound shy of a double-double of his own. Zeljko Rebraca was not expected to play but came off the bench for ten points on 5-7 shooting in seventeen minutes. It's great to see Z healthy and contributing. And surprise starter Walter McCarty, emboldened by his success against the Lakers, filled up the stat sheet with four points, eight rebounds, five assists and three blocks in 32 big minutes.

The film session will be as ugly as the game. Although L.A. outshot Charlotte 48.1% to 41.8%, the Clips corralled just five offensive rebounds in losing yet another battle of the boards. More ominously, they turned the ball over a whopping 23 times. You may get away with that against the team with the worst record in the league; repeat it Wednesday night against the Hornets and they'll blow you out of the building.

Coach Dunleavy would indubitably have liked to rest his starters. But the combination of the Clips' sloppiness and the Bobcats' refusal to go away kept the game from getting to garbage time. So Vin Baker didn't make his Clipper debut, James Singleton was yet again nowhere to be seen, and only Zelly and Livy (two assists, two turnovers and five fouls in fifteen minutes) saw significant action off the bench.

For the Clips, the win made February a winning month (barely): They posted a 7-6 record following a 10-5 November, a 6-7 December, and a 9-5 January. As March blows in, the Clips sit in fifth place in the West, 1-1/2 games ahead of the #6 Hornets (Wednesday), 2 ahead of the #7 Grizzlies (Sunday), 4-1/2 ahead of the #8 Lakers, and 5-1/2 ahead of the #9 Jazz (Friday). Get the feeling this week -- before all the injured guys come back (God willing) -- is kinda important?

Join the game discussion at Clipper Talk. -- Jordan

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