On Tap: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  February 24, 2006

Record: 30-23 (33-20 Pythagorean), 5th seed in the West
Record last 10 games: 4-6 (lost 5 straight)
Offensive Rating: 106.5 (15th in the league)
Defensive Rating: 104.6 (6th in the league)

No Trades Is Good Trades:
On message boards and talk radio yesterday I kept hearing this sentiment, “If we had just gotten X we could have made a serious run in the playoffs this year.”

No, we couldn’t (unless Minnesota decided to trade us KG for Slava and a pick, which seems a tad unlikely). The Lakers wisely are about being in position two or three years from now to make a deep playoff run, and Jamal Crawford, with his huge contract and nonexistent defense, is not how you get there.

Frustrated as we may be at times with this year’s Lakers, no move is still better than making a move “just to shake things up.”

By the way, great note in the LA Times this morning: “The last Laker deadline-day deal came when shooting guard George McCloud was acquired from New Jersey for Joe Kleine and draft picks in February 1997.”

About Last Night: That’s two good games in a row. Isn’t that fun to watch (even on TNT)?

As a team, the Lakers had an eFG% of 59%. Odom was driving the lane liked we’d all been praying for and was hitting the outside shot when the D laid off him, he had a true shooting percentage of 59.4% and was +21. Kobe, 10 assists and just 1 turnover, a TS% of 62.6% and was +30. Cook and D. George had good games. Kwame Brown played as well as we can expect and was a +23. Even Turiaf got in the game to blow off some of that energy he expends on the bench.

But again the key was defense – the Kings had an eFG% of 45.1% for the night, well below the 48.6% they shot for the season. The Lakers had 10 steals (while the Kings had 2).

As a side note, Smush had a tough defensive night on Bibby, and was -2 for the game. I think he gets too far up in the face of quick guards, trying to use his quickness to cover them but he’s not fast enough at this level. Smush is tall and long, he should stay just a little off the guy and use that length.

About the Clips: Clipper fans are worried. And they should be, this team that showed so much promise has been losing games at a pace like, well, the Clippers. But now they’ve solved their problems by bringing in Vin Baker! He’s a four-time All Star and Olympian! What? That was in the 1990s? Oh, never mind.

The Clips haven’t been playing as bad as you’d think lately — they almost beat Dallas the other night. In the last 10 games, as a team, they have a true shooting percentage of 52.6% while holding their opponents to just over 50%. Keep that up and you’ll win more than you’ll lose.

Elton Brand is a stud – he has 30 double-doubles this season. Chris Kaman’s hair is Gallagheresque, but the guy is a solid center – he has a true shooting percentage of 56.7% (Chris Mihm is 56%) and he pulls down 16.3% of the rebounds when he is on the floor (Mihm is at 14.3%).

A few guys to watch: Vladimir Radmanovic is a guy who seems to still be trying to find his way around the offense but is always capable of a big shooting night; James Singleton has looked good coming off the bench in the parts of a couple recent games I’ve caught; Shaun Livingston should give us some highlight reel passes but his defense is suspect.

Key’s to a Laker win: Play like they did last night and they should get a win – this team has been fun to watch. That said, this is the second game of a back-to-back and that opens the door for the inconsistent Lakers team to return. I just hope we left that version of the team behind.

Kurt

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13 responses to On Tap: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. one other pleasant surprise last night was the D that Kwame put on Artest. most of the night, LO played him pretty well, and considering that Artest was guarding Kobe, it’s no wonder they had to take him out for a blow, and he was fighting fatigue all night. (burning it at both ends) So, when LO went off to cover someone else, kwame came in fresh and put his big body on Ron, keeping him under pressure for the whole time he was out there. So, I wonder if that same appraoch could be used to slow down their “Go to” guy, Elton Brand?
    Smush should be able to stay in front of Cassell, but now tonight, he has to be careful NOT to let up intensity, as you said, the key to getting “W’s” now is play the D!

  2. I’ve actually been happy with Kwame’s man defense most nights, and I too thought he did a good job on Artest. Ron-Ron likes to post up forwards and use his strength, but the Lakers did a good job all around negating that.

    Kwame’s defensive problems (and Cook too) is when he leaves his man early to help someone else, the play develops differently than he anticipated, then he just ends up lost is space, covering nobody.

  3. Brand isn’t the Clipper’s go to guy. Cassell or Mobley are (or Livingston is, which is a mistake so far). Brand is the guy who gets a lot of his shots off rebounds and working hard.

  4. The Clippers situation: injuries.

    The analogous situation would be literally for the Lakers to be forced to play without Lamar, Devean and Brian for an EXTENDED stretch since Maggette (#2 option) QRoss (his backup) and Rabraca (first big man off the bench) have missed so many games. The difference is the Clippers are still in the game almost every night, and don’t lose to Atlanta or Charlotte, wink wink, which goes to the depth. If Maggette and Ross get healthy I think they are capable of anything. Seriously. Anything.

    But yeah, for now we are worried. I predict a Laker victory because Q is out tonight and maybe for 2 weeks, but if a Clipper victory is imminent, I now intend to lead Staples in a chant of “USA”, mostly because I think it would be funny to me and confusing to everyone else.

    VIN BAKER FOR THE WIN!!!11

  5. gee, what a shocking loss. and who’da thunk lamar would disappear again?

    i didn’t expect a win, but sheesh…. can we start COMPETING on a regular basis in the second game of a back to back? oh, sweet sweet houston…

    one major bright spot– the coaching staff saying at the half they needed more scoring from lamar. well, rambis at least. maybe they’ll finally start getting after him quicker when he transforms into wallpaper.

  6. Rad Man OWNED Lamar at both ends. Lamar WAS being aggressive but the team defense on him was perfect.

    Depth. 2 starters down? No problem.

    Oh, and to the Laker fans who think they DON’T get all the calls, if you can say that after tonight, well I just don’t know if you are an honest person. If the Clippers hit their free throws and the refs called a good game it would have been at least 25 if not much worse. One team foul in the first quarter? Good grief.

  7. http://espn-att.starwave.com/media/nba/2006/0224/photo/g_radmanovic_412.jpg A classic non-call from the first quarter. NBA officials: They’re FAN-tastic.

  8. odom was being aggressive in bits and spurts john r, but not through the entire game.

    sure, he came out in the third and dunked on midgets that were guarding him, but for half the game watching him slink around in the backround made me a little queasy again.

  9. Lots of teams have good players. How many have enough of them that a) want to win and b) translate that will to win into consistent concentration on the court and good decision making. We can talk about stats all day, but that’s what it takes to win. So for only one player on the Lakers meets these criteria. K8.

  10. Win by 19, shoot 8 more free throws (miss 12), have one of your players put up an MVP worthy performance and you still want talk about how the refs favor the Lakers?

  11. Brand sure looked like the “go to” guy to me last night, especially in the 3rd qtr, when the Lakers finally got a lead, (1 pt), that was exactly the time when Brand took over the game, made like 8 straight points, got the ball from his teammates every time down, he couldn’t miss, and the Clips pulled away.
    funny thing too, Kwame was sitting on the bench for that stretch, Mihm was trying to guard Brand, and not doing a very good job. I kept expecting to see Phil put Kwame in for a defensive adjustment, and it obviously didn’t happen.
    I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I get very annoyed at Smush when he sulks, stops play, startes at the ref like he expects them to reverse a call, and then he pulls some idiotic “Rookie” move like getting called for the 8 count crossing the halfcourt line, or taking 3 small steps(traveling) 2 turnovers at very critical times…disheartening, silly mistakes and he costs the team with this attitude problem, he should be known as a hustle guy, a “Rookie” trying to prove to the team and the league that he belongs in the pros, he’s hasn’t earned the right to act this way yet, he’s stll in his rook season, so to Smush I say, stop worrying about looking “cool” and just get out there and hustle your ass off!

  12. Well said Gatinho! Complaining about the officiating is a pretty bad habit. I thought that was a typical italian way of complaining especially in the event of facing bad losses you can’t explain if you don’t want to admit you got beaten from a better team. I always hated people (i’m not referring to you john) complaining about refs or saying a team is favored (as everybody says of my favorite soccer team Juventus… probably 28 titles are way too much to bear for the other fans) I mean if you watch games… and believe in sports fairly played and officiated… how can anyone possibly believe those guys are making calls deliberately favoring one team? Come on refs are human beings and they make mistakes as everybody. It doesn’t make sense to watch a game if you don’t think it’s fairly officiated…

  13. Paul #9 has hit the nail on the head. The Will to win, focus, mental toughness, smarts on the court, defensive toughness, and execution on both sides of the ball are needed every game from everyone if they are to make a respectable showing this season from last year.

    Kwame needs to come off the bench for good this season and Bynum should get more meaningful minutes. Some players perform great during drills and practice, but then clam up during game time while others do the opposite…they perform better under pressure and when it counts…give the boy some playing time.