Last night the Clippers went up against a team, the New Orleans Hornets, that not only has been sucking all season, but that was also missing its MVP candidate, its motor, its sole consistent player this season: Chris Paul. This is a team that is known for having a lack of depth. It should’ve been a Clippers’ win. Unfortunately no one remembered to tell LA that. Or maybe the Clips were told that & thus they came out assuming they’d win. That’d explain the lack of hustle. As proof of that hustle-ness-less, look no further than these stats posted by Steve Perrin on Clips Nation:
Coming in, the Hornets were the third worst rebounding team in the league by differential at -5.6. [...] Yet they outrebounded the Clippers by 15, [...] the Hornets got 19 offensive rebounds, while the Clippers got 25 defensive rebounds. Meaning that when New Orleans missed a shot, they got the ball back for another try over 43% of the time.
Another thing that killed us, well not “thing” so much as “person,” was Baron Davis. With Rasual Butler now playing smarter (¬ jacking shots up every time), B-Diddy decided he wanted to be the team’s new Rasual. He took the most shots and only made 7 of 21, for a 33fg%. From the three-point line he went 3 of 12, or 25%. And the truth is those stats are actually kinda padded ‘cuz he went 3 for 5 from the three-point line in the last three and a half minutes of the game, when it would’ve taken a miracle to come all the way back. In other words, during the parts of the game that mattered, he was 0-for-7 from the three (which if my math is correct is 0%), and 4-for-16 from the field in general, or 25%. You’d think a player would notice if they’re shooting that horribly and hold back a bit (or drive to the hole more rather than shooting the long-ball non-stop). As Mark Jackson would say, “C’mon, Baron, you’re better than that!”
Lastly, the third huuuuge thing was that our D on the exterior sucked. Ahh, let’s be honest: our outside D has been pretty bad all season. We do a poor job of rotating on the perimeter and closing out shooters. I also believe that’s part of the reason we had so much trouble getting defensive rebounds. When you don’t rotate properly it’s harder to box out the offense because you don’t know where they are (& thus where they’re coming from). Out of the 20 misses from three-point land, the Hornets got it back 9 times. At 45%, that’s even better than the overall percentage of 43% that Steve cited above. As great as Kaman’s been playing, he needs to get his defensive rebounding #s up. Rasual had as many defensive rebounds (3) as Kaman, and Butler played 6 less minutes. Even worse, the Hornets opposing center, Emeka Okafor, had 14, count ‘em, 14 rebounds! Again, Kaman’s been playing his heart out every night so it’s unfair to throw blame at him, but it’s the little things like boxing out yer guy that produces wins.
Oh, and a sad side note: Kareem Rush, after playing a minute and a half, took a weird step and tore his ACL, ending his season. I’m curious though… since his contract wasn’t guaranteed until January, does that mean the Clips won’t have to pay him for the rest of the season? That’d doubly suck. Not only was he starting to look good & possibly playing his way back into the NBA, but due to his unguaranteed contract he won’t get his money for injuring himself at work like NBA players normally do.
Okay, okay, enough negativity; I don’t want everyone to run off and slit their wrists. So what were some good things about the game? The big thing of course was Al Thornton’s phenomenal game, scoring 30 points on 12-of-17, which is nearly an insane 71%. Some teams don’t shoot that well from the free-throw line where no one is even guarding them. And it wasn’t just that his shot was on — he’s kept up his trend of getting the ball closer to the basket & shooting higher percentage shots.
Rasual Butler also played within himself, only taking 8 shots, & thus was allowed to play 34 minutes. The great thing about it wasn’t that he had an excellent shooting night (which he did: over 60% from the field, and a perfect 2-for-2 from downtown), but rather that even with him being en fuego, he didn’t get shot happy. This is the Butler I was hoping for.
Also I was happy to see Dunleavy give Steve Novak 19 minutes. Novak hit his first four shots before going cold. He actually surprisingly missed two wide-open threes that would’ve turned the momentum of the game around. Still, you can’t complain about an outside shooter who has an off-night by “only” hitting 50% of his jump shots.
Two other great Clip bits:
1. Check out this great article on super-fan Clipper Darrell. As evil and cheap as Donald Sterling is, I was amazed to see that he actually paid for Darrell to fly to Phoenix and put him up in a hotel in 2006 for Game 7 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
2. Here’s a pretty funny video of the hazing that Blake Griffin is going through. Despite the fact that he tattled on my friend who worked at CPK, I’m thinking maybe Blake’s a fun guy after all.