Lakeshow Episode 01: The View from —ummm— Clipperland

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I could hardly see the TV.

Tears will do that to ya, you know.

Not tears of sorrow, like those that had flowed so profusely a few weeks earlier when my wife had UTTERLY FAILED to provide me with the Traditional 48th Birthday Gift for One's Husband — a weekend at the coast with a couple OSU girls for some, uhhh, tutoring. (God, she's mean...)

No, these were tears of unbridled joy. Basketball season had returned!

Not only that — yeah, it even gets better! — my main man David Stern had taken my advice with the scheduling by running four utterly compelling games with only modest overlapping that made for easy channel-surfing. 

I loaded up a blue Coleman® cooler full of Full Sail® IPA and carted it next to my bed, strapped on a fresh pair of XL Depends® so that I wouldn't miss a single moment for extraneous activities, fired up the laptop and the telly, and for over six hours I made like a basking walrus accidentally washed up on the beach in Bermuda.

1. [ - - - - the ] Celtics at Cavs. The dream matchup in the East put a quick kabosh to LBJ's phony-ass photo-snapping buffoonery and gave us all a merciful break from having to listen to those clowns count down the games to a "perfect" home record. The Cavs came out full throttle and then did the big fizzle, watching their huge lead evaporate before getting completely reversed. It's as painful as tooth extraction watching the Celtics win, but there was the compensating joy of watching Mr. Sportsmanship and his enabling cast of 7-foot grandpas take a loss, so the experience wasn't a total waste. BTW: Shaq's vertical leap (sic.) is now down to single digits, measured in inches, which is to say he'll soon be adopting the metric system.

Oh, I'm not through yet, click on through, buckwheat!

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2. Wizards at Mavs. I dunno if I've ever admitted it yet, but I have a secret affection for the Dallas Mavericks or, more properly, for their fans on SBN. It started mid-season last year when I was doing "opposition research" (and scaring myself quite severely in the process) on the potential playoff matchup. I found a number of kindred spirits: potty-mouthed and cynical. And watching the Large German Man do things that no 7-footer has done or will ever do again, that's fun, too — the man is a Shooting Guard on offense, dontcha know. Anyways, this game demonstrated two things to me: (a) that Dallas is not one of the Top 4 teams in the West this season; and (b) that anybody who still thinks the Wizards suck is living in last year, daddio.

3. Rockets at Blazers. The Rockets were the kryptonite to the SuperBlazers last season. With no Yao Ming, with no TMac, with no Von Wafer ready to go off at unpredictable intervals, with Ron Ron gone gone in favor of the terrific role player (but no big scorer) Trevor Ariza, the spell is broken. Houston is left with an unbalanced mess of a team, quite frankly, all harmony with no lead vocals, and the current threat level to Portland (who they beat in the playoffs last year) or the Lakers (who they took to seven games) is 0.0000. I think they sit at the 13th team in the Western Conference at this moment, although if McGrady comes back that could change materially in the second half of the season. Blazers took the big spanking stick to them, going up 19 at the end of the 3rd Quarter, before making a few little choking noises in the 4th. Still, it was no big whoop and an easy win for my faves.

4. Clippers at Lakers. The finale, best for last, etc. New banner, pretty rings, and Clippers without Blake aren't in the same class as the Lakers without Pau. Still, Lawler's torts had it down to a single point at the end of the 3rd Q before the Clippers did what the Clippers always do in the 4th. Whozzawhatza went wrong in the third?!?  I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Let's take a look at our old friend the POPCORN MACHINE GAME FLOW CHART and figure it out together, shall we?

Ahem. Here's the link again. Click it.

Seriously. Click it.

Wow, look at that! The big Third Quarter Comeback was a straight mano-a-mano win for the Clips' starters over the Lakers. Eric Gordon put up 10 and Marcus Camby put up 8, while Chris Kaman added 6 more and there you have it. The Lakers got production out of Kobe and Drew but it wasn't enough to keep up. The lack of Pau really hurt, it would seem.

Then in the 4th, out came the Clipper starters (thank you, Coach Dunleavy!) and it was LO doing his Warrior King routine, racking 8 points and 2 boards in the first 5:37. The boys in gold went +9 during that interval and the game went out of reach. Kobe was on the bench for most of that time so it wasn't him whut done it.

Game ball to Lamar and another one to David Stern for a swell evening's entertainment and a third to the makers of Depends for enhancing my viewing experience so comfortably.

And now, before we get to the actual meat of this long and aimless column, your Clipper linkage, please join with me in watching the latest installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD:

 

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(1)

Lakers 99 - Clippers 92

by Steve Perrin, Clips Nation (SBN)

* * *

The Good

The roster is indeed deeper this time around. Even without the injured Blake Griffin, the Clippers bench outplayed the defending champs' reserves by a wide margin. Now, it must be noted that Pau Gasol did not play, forcing Lamar Odom into the starting lineup, but Phil Jackson was so distrustful of his bench that he played four of his starters between 38 and 41 minutes each. * * *

Eric Gordon looked very good. Gordon scored 21 points on 14 shots, and was actually +5 in his 33 minutes on the floor in a game the Clippers lost by seven. When Gordon picked up his second foul and went to the bench with 4 minutes left in the first quarter, the wheels came off for the Clippers temporarily. His ability to penetrate, to make shots or to create shots for his teammates, makes life a lot easier for the Clippers in the half court. It'll be nice when he starts getting some calls, but he probably has a better chance of doing so against someone other than Kobe Bryant.

The bad

Baron Davis 1 for 10. In the first regular season game of his big bounce back year, Baron scored 2 points. You know that's not what he wanted. How much was the foot bothering him? Who knows. But 10% shooting is brutal, and hard for a team to overcome. * * *

The game

As for the game, one presumes that the Lakers would have responded to whatever run the Clippers put together and done enough to win - Kobe (33 points and 8 rebounds) looked to be in mid-season form intensity wise, and Andrew Bynum (26 and 13) and Lamar Odom (16 and 14) were both tremendous. But even so one wonders what might have happened had the Clippers not dug a big hole with all those turnovers. * * *

 

(2)

Lakers 99, Clippers 92

by Kevin Arnovitz, ClipperBlog (TrueHoop)

*  *  *

A few notes:

  • This is a far better conditioned squad, and it's evident in Chris Kaman's arms, in the team's third quarter run, and in the fact that the Clippers racks ass all night, never taking a single possession off. There's a reason the Clippers were a lousy third quarter and an awful rebounding team last season: They were out of shape. Basketball is a frenetic, aerobic game and there's absolutely no way to remain competitive if you can't match your opponent's physical effort. The Clippers lose the game, but not because they can't endure. * * *
  • Given what they're up against, the defense does solid work. The Lakers work the Clippers in the post all night, which puts a lot of pressure on the Clippers' help defense. By and large, the Clips make sounds decision about when and from where to dispatch that help. There are a handful of blown rotations, but more times than not, the Clips are quick to the ball. They post a defensive efficiency rating of 98.7 for the game — a significant accomplishment against the Lakers, with or without Pau Gasol.
  • Baron Davis and Al Thornton both fall victim to their lack of shot selectivity. Davis' shot chart is especially ugly — 1-for-10 from the field without a trip to the stripe. The good news? The most efficient scorers take the bulk of the shots: 18 true shots for Kaman, 16 for Gordon and 13 for Camby. Thornton's 4-for-11 is mitigated somewhat by his work on the boards: Nine total rebounds, which helps the Clips win the rebound rate 52/48. * * *

 

(3)

Game 1 Recap: LA Clippers 92 - LA Lakers 99

by Clipshow817, Clippers Chat (Fanball)

Clippers started the game with Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Al Thorton, Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby. Having to withstand the emotion of the Lakers ring ceremony and unveiling of the new championship banner, the Clippers stayed close but finished the first quarter down 22-32, where the Lakers ended the quarter on a 13-5 run.

The Clippers game plan seemed to be to try to pick up the pace and make it a helter-skelter game and get the Lakers out of their offensive sets. Eric Gordon did a good job of penetrating through the teeth of the D and passing to an open Kaman or Thorton.

The only problem was the Lakers game plan was to post up as much as possible as they wanted to exploit interior mismatches. Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom were able to make their low post moves and Kobe Bryant basically tried to post up whoever was guarding him. This put Marcus Camby and Gordon in early foul trouble. * * *

It was good to finally see the season start and now the Clippers have to re-group and get ready for the Phoenix Suns Wednesday night for their first back-to-back game this season.

 

(4)

Facing Facts

posted by "Clipperboy24" to Clippers TopBuzz Message Board

Can we please face the facts?

Griffin wouldn't have made a huge difference last night.

Baron Davis is CLEARLY dragging the team down because he's not 100% (and it's arguable that he drags the team down when he IS 100%)

Thornton is not who we thought he'd be. He's potential who's had plenty of time to explode but he never has. The kid can't shoot. He's looking like the wobbly second coming of Maggette. He should at least know his place and stop taking bad shots, but Baron doesn't exactly lead by example in that dept.

Camby is playing like he's wasting his time with this team.

Say what you want about Telfair but the guy is actually trying, which is more than i can say about half of the team.

Kaman missed layups last night... what else is new? If you want Kaman on the floor, you have to prepare yourself for that. He played well and is at LEAST looking like the Kaman that carried the team when Brand left.

A guy who came off the bench with the nickname "cookie monster" was our top performer at the half. COOKIE MONSTER! Not Baron Davis, one of the most coveted PG's in the league. Not Marucs Camby who's averaged 15-10 since kindergarten. Not Thornton, the man who clips fans will wait FOREVER for. ... Freakin Craig Smith.

Now don't take that the wrong way. I love Cookie Monsters game, but he shouldn't be our top performer on such a stacked team.

What causes 4th quarter breakdowns? The same thing that causes breakdowns in any quarter... Coaching. Dunleavy refused to sit Thornton, even when he was acting like a black hole. He refused to sit Baron, even when he was throwing up air-balls. And he refused to play Cookie Monster more, when he was clearly hot at halftime.

If you can't stop a run with points, TAKE A TIMEOUT. Take two if you need to!. Timeouts break momentum and they're in the coach's hands. We were down by one, and then allowed a run by the world champions (you don't come back from those.) After a 5-6 point turnaround Dun should have stopped waxing his bald spot and called a timeout.

 

(5)

Picking Up Where We Left Off

posted by "Sam Mays" to Clippers TopBuzz Message Board

This team seemed to pick up right where they left off last season... Baron stunk up the gym. DJ looked less than ready for prime time. They had trouble scoring and turned the ball over way too frequently. They were in the game until the fourth quarter when the Lakers got serious and put them away fairly easily.

There were some differences however that are cause for hope. First, it was the Lakers who turned it on and beat them in the fourth, not the Mavericks or Pistons or Nets. Telfair was better than any backup we had last year, which is important given Baron's steep decline (let's hope it was the ankle injury that slowed him down, because he did play well in preseason). Kaman is clearly back to form as one of the top 5 - 7 centers in the league. Our bench is clearly deeper and Gordon is a border-line all-star quality player.

We got beat up on the boards with the Lakers getting a lot of second shots. We also got out-scored from the foul line 25 - 11. That was the real difference. The Lakers got to the rim and got fouled and we didn't. Of course, the Lakers are a very long team and they make that difficult. We took 87 shots in the game, more than any team playing last night. We made 39, also more than any team playing last night... Problem is, most of them were jump shots, which also makes it difficult to get to the foul line...

Baron tried to attack, but clearly didn't have it. Smith did a nice job attacking in the first half. Gordon did as well... Beyond that, it was all jump shots... And jump shooting teams usually lose. That's where Blake was missed most. The pressure he puts on the defense by attacking is a tremendous asset.

All in all, given the competition, it wasn't a terrible start for us. Disappointing of course with the absence of Griffin, but certainly no reason to throw in the towel. * * *

 

(6)

Fire Dumbleavy!

posted by "Clipperfan86" to Clippers TopBuzz message board

Fire Dumbleavy!

 

The Bottom Line:

1. Yo, Baron, the expression is "GIVING A HUNDRED AND TEN PERCENT," not "making ten percent."

2. How much are we paying that guy again?

3. Get well soon, Blake!

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