02. Didn't We Just Play? The View from Clipperland



Some decisions are obvious, Mr. Stern...

The Portland Trail Blazers having to open their season with back-to-back games gives me gas...

Portland w as forced to take on Phoenix at home and then hop a plane to meet a rested and ready opponent on their home floor the very next night.

How is this fair?

The 82 game regular season is supposed to determine the best teams in the NBA, after all. Yet back-to-backs systematically skew these game outcomes by placing one team or another at a severe competitive disadvantage with a better-rested foe.

Godfather Stern, hear our plea...

The preseason is infinite and intolerable, seven or eight meaningless games scattered over the better part of a month. During this time teams run their motors at about 3/4 speed in an effort to avoid having their rotation players pendergraphed before the real season begins.


Nobody likes preseason basketball. Nobody! The players hate it, it's nothing but a chance to get hurt. The fans who pay for tickets hate it, they get stuck paying real money for a grossly inferior product. The networks that broadcast games avoid it, viewers justifiably shun the games. It's all just one big, fat waste of time.

The National Football League is facing this same dilemma, but unlike the NBA they are moving to fix the problem. Current thinking is that the NFL intends to reduce their preseason from 4 games to 2 while expanding their regular season from 16 games to 18. While as a fan I would appreciate that move, as a football player I would not. The issue remains to be negotiated with the NFL Players Association.

But for the NBA, this is simple stuff. This problem can be solved in a way that leaves both fans and players happy — and which increases the amount of Marketable Sports Entertainment Product that the NBA has to sell to the networks. That means more money for the owners, Yes, Mr. Stern — more money, money, money!!!

(See, I got your attention.)

It's easy: let's just turn 7 or 8 preseason games to 3, move up the season two weeks, and use the extra days to get rid of most of this back-to-back game nonsense.

A two week longer season means more nights of meaningful basketball to sell to the networks. TV contracts will reflect this. A condensed pre-season followed by an expanded duration for the regular season improves players' lives by giving their bodies more time to rest. They're happier and healthier — and there's something to be said for happy, healthy players. Ticket-buying fans no longer have to fork out bix for garbage games and that makes them smile, too.

And, most importantly, the byproduct of all this makes ME happy: the reduction of back-to-backs by 50% or more means that the NBA schedule is more fair as the number of false outcomes is dramatically reduced.

How many decisions in life can be resolved in a Win - Win - Win - Win?

With so many things to fight about in the ongoing collective bargaining battle with the players' union, isn't this an idea upon which everyone can agree?

It seems so simple. Please take the lead.


In praise of a Los Angeles Laker.

As many or most of you know, I am an unusual bird — a fan of both the Blazers and their most hated historic rival, the Los Angeles Lakers. This is not the time for me to recount the temporal and geographic factors which lead to this most unnatural of amalgams. Just accept it as so, taunt me if you will, and move along.

Anyway, I just wanted to sing the praises of one of the newest Lakers in his opening night debut. Down double-digits in the 3rd Q, Steve Blake did what he was put on the planet to do, draining a pair of long balls to cut the lead to 82-77.


The Lakers came all the way back, even taking a lead in the 4th. The gritty Rockets (who have Kevin Martin and Yao Ming this year and are thus much improved, please note) fought their way to a 110-109 lead with about 30 seconds remaining.

It was money time at Staples Center.

The Lakers had been there before, many times. Usually the ball would be put into Kobe's hands for a 1-on-3 coin flip, in which he would make or miss a shot impossible for mortals. 

Tuesday night was different, however. Superannuated PG Derek Fisher was waving a towel and leading the cheers from the bench and the new guy was on the floor.

Tension was thick as #24 Mr. Mamba went for the win...

Kobe beat his man off the dribble out top, per usual, and cut down the left side of the key towards the inevitable double-team for the possible game-winner............ and suddenly kicked the ball out to an open Steve Blake at the arch!

BOOM!!! and just like that the Lakers were up by two with 18 seconds remaining.

The Rockets still had one last chance. After fiddling and futzing, coming out of a timeout Mr. Aaron Brooks drove the ball along the baseline, attempting get to the other side of the rim for an easy layup for the tie. Once again it was Steve Blake coming up big, this time smothering Brooks' attempt and sealing the victory for the World Champions.

Blake finished 3-for-5 for 10 points in less than 22 minutes of play.

I was never a big Steve Blake fan during his Blazer years. That said, the Lakers signing him made infinite sense to me, since PJ's crunchtime offense is based upon the stars (Kobe, Pau) taking the ball low and, if necessary, kicking to open shooters. Those shooters have to drain the sucker, period. It's nice to see Blake in a position where his one super skill, doing just that, is valued and needed. It's doubly good seeing that he already has the trust of the coach and the superstar to take that decisive shot with the game on the line.

Their bench bolstered with the addition of Blake, former Blazer shotblocker Theo Ratliff, and hustling former UCLA Small Forward Matt Barnes, the Lakers are much improved this year. Blazer fans should take note that getting by them in the playoffs has not become any easier.


*   *   *








No Laker glitz here

Soggy floor and empty seats

Clippers' year begins






Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...


Kaman gets capped by Camby in the key:

MB: "Blocked!"

Rice: "The crowd's gonna get a technical!"


Roy hits over a follicley-challenged Ryan Gomes:

"Anybody that's got a mohawk haircut can't check Brandon!"


Time to read a promo card:

MB: "The life of a Blazer dancer is very exciting on the court but did you ever wonder what goes on after the game?"

Rice: "Oh, my, yes, my...... oh my!!!"

MB: "What would you ever do without me to act as your safety net?"


Baron sits, dangerous Eric Gordon plays, and Rice opines:

"If Vinnie Del Negro keeps doing that, Baron's going to go out and eat for a month."



Game 2.

Blazers 98 at Clippers 88.

October 27, 2010.

Blazers now 2-0, Clippers 0-1.

My bandolier is full of bullets today, baby...

  • Blake Griffith's Rookie of the Year campaign got started in a big way in the opening frame, with him posterizing an empty key not once, but twice. Portland's lack of a crusher in the middle was glaring. Nobody was putting a body on Big Blake and he was able to sky for a couple one-handed jams — one on a put-back, another on an oop. The gentleman is gonna be good, but it's probably best not to get carried away with the praise until we see him on the floor against a defender.
  • Best joke from the game thread: Condensation from the hockey ice was making a few spots on the floor slippery. "Wow floor problems already?" asks Timmay. "LMA pissed his pants when he saw Griffin's first dunk," KeepItCopacetic replies.
  • There may be some debate among Blazer fans as to whether Dante is a 3 or a 4, but at this point we can safely say that the guy ain't a 5. He picked up two quick fouls trying to check legit 7-footer Chris Kaman. Nate's dream of a 5 guard lineup fading away...
  • Clippers mechanically tried to feed the translucent man, which resulted in several forced shots and misses. Brandon drilled a couple against an overmatched Ryan Gomes and PDX held a lead to end the 1st Quarter, Blazers 31, Clips 23.
  • Griffin's physique and aggressiveness reminds me of, ummmm,.............. Lebron. There. I said it. He scored 13 points in his first 12 minutes and played a little D to boot.
  • Who's more overpaid — Hedo Turkoglu ($10,215,850) or Baron Davis ($13,000,000)? Vote now.
  • Armon got racked up for two thousand bucks for raising his hand after a foul. Hey, if I wanted to watch NCAA idiot refs, I'd watch the idiotic NCAA...
  • Portland racked up 5 team fouls in the first 4 minutes of the 2nd Quarter. That's some sort of Blazer record, I'm sure.
  • Blazers' starters on the floor were flinging up jumpers, Clips were getting to the rim with no goalie in sight. Guess who took the lead?
  • Camby had 9 rebounds with over 3 minutes left in the first half. Missing some double tips will do that.
  • Roy feeling it, hit a big ISO three at the buzzer for halftime. Blazers closed on a 14-5 run to take a 54-49 lead to the locker room. Brandon had 18 of those points all by his lonesome.
  • LMA opened the second half trying to post up Kaman and shot an airball from about 8 feet out. Not good. A big 4 first half points for him.
  • Nic Batum is becoming a nice rebounder.
  • Midway through the third and LMA was sitting 3/13 from the field. Bear in mind that one of those makes was simple cleaning up a Rudy miss on the break. If he doesn't watch out, LMA's gonna be entered into the Most Overpaid NBA Doof challenge ($11,244,000).
  • Just when LMA gets rolling, he picks up a 4th personal and a T and winds up on the bench. Very annoying refs, these.
  • Say what you want about Vinnie Del Negro, but he's smart enough to put Baron Davis on the bench and to play Eric Gordon.
  • Portland managed to piss away their lead and ended the 3rd Q down by a point, 71-70. Technicals were 3-to-1 against them. Just sayin'...
  • How many technical fouls do you reckon Rasheed Wallace would accumulate during a full year with the refs calling Ts on dumb dookie like this? It's a math question, isn't it? Two per game, then minus the suspension games... Can anybody calculate that number for me? My brain hurts...
  • Greg Oden wears ugly suits.
  • End of 3 and the Clipper bench had 23 points to the Blazers' 13...
  • Stuck out high and up against the shot clock, Andre had to shoot about a 26 footer. I was surprised he didn't baseball throw it. It was an airball anyway, might as well have...
  • Blazers down 4 about a third of the way through the final frame, Nate got a scheduled time out. Coming out of the break, the Blazers switched to a zone, which managed to slow down Eric Gordon, praise Moses... Note to self: Nate can coach a little.
  • Vinnie reinserted Baron for crunchtime, which pretty much answers those nasty rumors about him secretly being a pretty smart guy.
  • Yes, I'll say it again. Nic is turning into a nice rebounder.
  • Clips once again started force feeding Kaman to beat the zone. Clanks and boos followed.
  • Basketball is a game of runs, they say. Blazers put on a 13-0 run in the 4th to take a big 9 point lead. Time out Clippers! Out of the time out? Back to Kaman, capped by Camby... Do ya reckon those guys might have played against each other in practice a couple times?
  • Brandon 1/2 from the line to make it a 10 point lead with 1:54 remaining. VDN took a 20 second timeout. The real crunch had arrived.
  • Clippers are still the Clippers. Hell, they'll aways be the Clippers... Down 10, needing a 3, Baron Davis wastes 10 seconds and throws up an airball. It must suck to be a Clipper fan.
  • Blazers made their FTs down the stretch and this game never got close again.
  • LMA finished with 19 points. I guess he's a keeper after all.
  • Congrats to Coach Nate for his 200th win as a Blazer Head Coach.


Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?


Ya gotta click THIS-HERE LINK to see the swell graphs, that's the way these things work... Ready? Set??? GO!!!

Now here are a few observations about the Popcorn Machine material from me to you:

A. Only 16 minutes for Rudy. Uht-oh, there goes another $25,000...

B. Portland was pretty well in control of this game throughout. When the Clips made a push, the Blazers had an answer. The 15-0 run in the 4th Quarter was decisive. That was the starting 5 who did that...

C. Sweet Wesley had an off night. His long shots just weren't clicking and his energy level seemed off, too. Four points scored and -4 in the +/-. Oberto was the king of liabilities though, managing a ghastly -10 in 10 minutes of action.

D. Chris Kaman, 4-for-18 shooting, 8 points. Minus-15 in the +/-... Thank you very much, sir!

E. Big Blake: 8/14 with 20 scored. Eleven boards. He's gonna be a big star in this league.


Now it's time for snippets and links to the other team's press...



Portland 98 - Clippers 86 -- Game Recap

by Steve Perrin, Clips Nation (SBN)

This just in: Blake Griffin is pretty good. Oh, and so is Brandon Roy. * * *

The Clippers had an exciting season opener, against a talented Portland team. Roy was unstoppable in the first half, and it seemed for a half that he was simply not going to allow his team to lose, despite the fact that he wasn't getting a lot of help.

Griffin finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds and 4 assists. His athleticism is through the roof (as ineed was his head on a couple of early dunks), but his skill level isn't far behind. * * *



Same Old Clips

posted by The Blake Griffin Era to Clips Nation (SBN)

I was so excited to watch this game and as usual they let me down.

Terrible performance from Baron and Kaman, the 2 vets.

Going to the GSW game on Friday, wish me luck. * * *



Blake Griffin, Clippers lose opener to Trail Blazers

by Mike James, Los Angeles Times

The Blake Griffin era dawned brightly in L.A. on Wednesday night, but by the second half, darkness had fallen and the Clippers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 98-88, in front of an announced 18,382 in Staples Center.

Griffin, the Clippers' No. 1 overall draft pick before last season who missed what would have been his rookie year after injuring his knee, thrilled the crowd in the first half with high-flying dunks and fierce rebounding.

But he was largely quiet in the second half as this Clippers team, like so many before it, couldn't sustain the kind of play necessary to become a playoff contender. Not on this night, anyway. * * *



Killer Kaman

posted by Trapp76 2002 to ESPN Clippers message board

Kaman is 4-18 in this game??

Wow. Thats just killer.Hard to overcome that.

The shot distribution in this game isn't where it needs to be.

I like the 17 shots from Gordon (but it should be a little more than that). Griffin needs to have more than 14 shots per game. * * *

Kaman has WAY TOO MANY SHOTS. More of those shots need to go to Griffin and Gordon.



Problems Again

posted by Clipzfan611 to ESPN Clippers message board

Problems that have plagued the Clippers in recent years:

Poor defense. Played well.
Too many TOs. Check.
Poor FT shooting. Check.
Poor 3P shooting. Check.
Poor 4th quarter execution. Check.
Poor bench. Check.

New squad=new result? No.

Guess 1/6 is not bad. Thank god we have BG. * * *



Miller, YOU SUCK!

posted by ToneE to Clippers Top Buzz message board

Just got home from the game!!!! Really great crowd tonight. Hasn't been this good since '06.

Anybody hear our sections "Miller YOU SUCK" chants late in the game???? hahahaha



Three Areas That Killed Us

posted by Sam Mays to Clippers Top Buzz message board

Three areas that I think killed us.

1. Giving up too many offensive rebounds... I think we can clean that up and it shouldn't be a persistent problem... But tonight it ruined what was a pretty good defensive effort for most of the game.

2. We are the worst outside shooting team in the NBA... That will kill us all year and there is no way to overcome it. Please, please, please, Olshey bring in some people who can actually shoot for a change. Gordon is an average three point shooter at best. Butler is streaky and Baron and Gomes suck. I beg you, Olshey, get some shooters.

3. Our bench sucks. We have no one to give us a lift when things aren't going well. Again, it will kill us all year... Butler and Gomes seem to be the only bench people we have who can play at all.

On the encouraging side, Kaman and Baron played very poorly tonight and we still hung around for most of the game, which is a tribute to Griffin and Gordon... Kaman will have better days. I fear this is the Baron Davis we can expect most of the time this season. The weight fluctuations and lack of off-season conditioning have made him old before his time... * * *



Portland 98, Clippers 88

by Jordan Heimer, ClipperBlog (TrueHoop)

* * *
The Bad

- Chris Kaman was brutal, especially down the stretch. The game was decided during a fourth quarter stretch that saw the Clippers go scoreless on six straight possessions against a 2-3 zone. In order:

1. Gomes blocked going hard to the basket
2. Kaman misses a baseline jumper.
3. Kaman spins to the basket, misses the finish.
4. Kaman misses a 10 foot face up.
5. Kaman's shot blocked in the lane.
6. Gordon gets blocked instead of throwing the ball up to a trailing Blake Griffin.

Kaman had a stellar pre-season and he seems as focused and as conditioned as he's ever been going into a season, but tonight he couldn't hit the ocean. He was 4-18 for the game, making only a single field goal in the second half. * * *



Clippers Sink in Opener: Roy scores 22 points to pace Portland. Griffin gets 20 points, 14 rebounds in L.A. debut

By Frank Burlison, LA Daily News

At various times Wednesday night during the Clippers' season opener with Portland at Staples Center it was easy to see why there was so much optimism — albeit of the cautious variety — radiating from Clippers' players and coaches, even as the team was winning just one of eight preseason games.

*  *  *

But, ultimately, there were too many of the things on display that have to be rectified to truly justify the internal and external optimism about the Clippers' 2010-11 fortunes under new coach Vinny Del Negro. * * *



Crunch Time

posted by JGanton to ESPN Clippers message board

WIth the game tied at 80 in the 4th, we get this:

80-80 Baron Davis shooting foul

82-80 Marcus Camby blocks Ryan Gomes's

84-80 Chris Kaman misses jumper

84-80 Chris Kaman misses 4-foot jumper

86-80 Chris Kaman misses 6-foot jumper

89-80 Marcus Camby blocks Chris Kaman's 5-foot jumper

89-80 Blake Griffin shooting foul

91-80 Baron Davis misses free throw 1 of 2

Gordon had some bad ballhandling turnovers and decisions in the 4th, too.


The Bottom Line:

1. Blake.....Freaking.....Griffin!!!

2. At least we have something to root for this season. We lost this one, but it's gonna be fun!

3. Portland is a pretty good team. Win some, lose some. Things will get better...



Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?





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