This was another one of those strange games. It seemed like everybody either had a fantastic game or a crappy one...not much in the middle. We got carried by 3.5 guys and endured through the play of all the rest. Fortunately the Clippers were just as banged up as ever. I feel bad for them and I am officially announcing that ClipsNation does NOT owe us a song. It would have been fun to come up with one for them but it's no fun making them pay up with half a roster. Instead we'll continue the challenge until the next time we meet, hopefully with complete lineups.
Another oddity in this game was our relative bounty of fast-break opportunities. These stemmed from once, central source: Joel Przybilla DESTROYING everyone on the boards. Again "everyone" is a relative term here, as Los Angeles had nobody to throw in there. The lesson here is not just how great Joel is, though we'll give him full marks and extra credit besides. The bigger lesson is this is what the team looks like when we are confident about rebounding. All it takes is somebody in there you know is going to get the rebound--alleviating all the other people of having to shade back towards the basket--to get a faster tempo going. We saw it in spades tonight. I've heard that we're not fast enough to run and that Nate doesn't like to run. Neither one of those is really accurate. When it's possible for us to run we are going to be able, and happy, to do it. This was a decent litmus test of what can happen if we dominate the glass.
Obviously this is not going to happen on a regular basis this season. In fact it may not happen again. The Clippers were a complete doughnut tonight...sweet on the outside, massive hole in the middle. But figure this: Joel Przybilla + whatever power forward we make due with at center right now are to doughnut what Greg Oden + Joel Przybilla are to...? Maybe not the best big-man teams in the league, but many of them. Greg Oden is going to end up being as good of a rebounder as Joel is. (He'll also be every bit the off-ball intimidator Joel is. He'll be better than Joel at straight-up, position-holding defense against big men and he'll be better offensively too.) The point is, we're going to run more once Oden gets acclimated and that's going to boost our spirits and eventually our production.
Besides the dominant rebounding theme, a couple other things stood out:
--Both teams shot horribly.
--Both teams shot worse than horribly from three-point range.
--Our bench was just gruesome.
--The agony of the bench performance was matched only by the agony of watching all of our point guards get used defensively yet again. There were moments when Blake, Jack, and Sergio made mistakes that brought groans and grimaces. All of them at one time or another looked like they intentionally got behind their man...like on purpose. Jaw-dropping.
--We also got stuck on offense more than I'm used to seeing. Were the Clips really playing that well or were we just trotting out the "B-" game? I kind of think the latter.
--How much do the Clippers miss Elton Brand and Chris Kaman? NOTHING would have been the same had they been playing.
--Joel has to come first with his 25 rebounds and 14 points on 70% shooting. They just had nobody to stop him. Bravo to everyone else for doing a good job of recognizing this. I think we were all rooting for him to set the rebounding record. Too bad the game wasn't three minutes longer. He really carried us through an otherwise mediocre game.
--Lamarcus was an ancillary beneficiary of the gooey Clipper middle. When you don't bother his post moves he looks superb. He riddled L.A. for 21 points and 10 rebounds plus he had a couple of nifty-looking passes. Again he was one of the fast break leaders. File that away for next year.
--Brandon did his usual good job. He missed some jumpers but made up for it by going 8-8 from the line. As I've said several times you hardly notice 23 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals from him anymore. I think that means he's kind of good.
--Martell had a NICE dunk early on. I couldn't believe it wasn't the dunk of the game. He only ended up 3-8 for 8 points with 1 board and 1 assist though. I'd love more sustained aggression. Or at least make a nuisance of yourself.
--Steve Blake had 7 assists and was one of our key guys on the break. He shot 1-8 though. Ouch.
--Speaking of "ouch", check out these combined stats for FIVE players off the bench:
5-26 shooting (19.2%)
1-8 three-point shooting (12.5%)
3 free throw attempts (17% of our total)
13 rebounds (25% of our total)
10 fouls (56% of our total)
14 points (17% of our total).
Now granted they were playing so poorly that Nate could only give them 27% of the total minutes, but only their rebounding comes close to matching that production. And also keep in mind that other than rebounding this wasn't exactly a high-production game. A disproportionately small percentage of "only a little" is VERY little. Jarrett 1-8 shooting, Travis 1-9 shooting...ugh.
One-Sentence Game Summary:
Somebody needs to send the Hardy Boys out to solve the Mystery of the Disappearing White Unit.