Preview and Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  November 21, 2006

UPS. We’re not the nickname-giving type of blog, but we love the suggestion from Dan to start calling Kwame Brown “UPS” — What Can Brown Do For You?

Tonight he may need to do a lot, his slow introduction back into the Laker rotation will get a jump start as the Lakers look to match up with the big front line of the Los Angeles Clippers

Everything I learned about the Clippers…. I learned from Clipper Blog. Kevin may be the most insightful blogger out there, and while his team is an impressive 6-2 on the season he has a couple of concerns (and he is not alone).

First, the Clippers aren’t taking advantage of their biggest strength by pounding the ball inside — so far this season Elton Brand has used about 19% of the Clipper possessions when he is on the floor, well below the 24.7% of last year. That slack has been picked up by guys like Tim Thomas and Shaun Livingston, who make their living on the perimeter. Add to that Chris Kaman shooting just 37.7% on the season and you’ve got trouble. Kevin reports that things returned to normal other night against Philly — Brand looked like Brand again. I’m sure they will try to establish him early and often tonight.

Second, young Shaun Livingston has not lived up the hype. He was all but handed the starting job at the point, but his is shooting just 35.8% (eFG%) with a PER of 8.91 this season, a regression for him. Sam Cassell has stepped up and again bailed the Clippers out, but obviously he is not the future — and Kevin is beginning to wonder if Livingston can be.

Despite that… How much have the perceptions changed in Clipperland when they are 6-2 and concerned, rather than rejoicing?

Some guys can flat-out write. There’s a reason one of the links on the left is to “anything by Eric Neel” — I found him way back at Sports Jones and have followed his writing ever sense. If you wonder why, read this great column post Lakers/Bulls game about what is going right in LA.

Things are bad. Just how warped has our world become when Rupert Murdoch can be positioned by his PR people to take the moral high ground?

Things to look for. The spot the Clippers have been the weakest defensively this season is at the point, not a big shock with the older and slower Cassell getting more minutes (Livingston is a good defender). If the dunking-on-Ben-Wallace Smush Parker shows up he could have a good game.

While it’s a game time decision, Jordan Farmar appears to be sitting this one out because of his sprained ankle. Look for Shammond Williams and Aaron McKie to get some run.

Want to keep your eye on a fun matchup — Quinton Ross on Kobe. Even the “slowed” Kobe.

to Preview and Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. I know it seems like we say this every game, but who do the Clippers put on Odom? Brand? Thomas? I like the idea of Odom matching up against TT. The other thing I’m looking for is Kaman’s assignment. How effective can he be against either Bynum or Kwame and is there anything he can do on defense to slow them down?


  2. This to me is our first big game of the season. Detroit was a big game, but in another division and conference. If we win tonight, look out for a let-down loss to Utah Friday. If we can beat the Clips twice in a row in the next couple weeks, we will finish first in the Pacific. Not can. Will.

    4-1 the rest of November.


  3. Its too bad if we dont have Farmar tonite because I think the game is gonna come down to two things. One is our bigs staying out of foul trouble. If Kwame and Bynum can play together that would be a great weapon. Second, the benches. The Clippers come in with a big bench of Livingston,Maggatte and Thomas, not a bad bench. We have to come strong with our second unit and if we start Bynum and Brown were coming with Turiaf along with Evans, Vlad, Cook, Sasha, we might be out-matched there, hope kobe’s got his cape on tonite


  4. Foul trouble is key, I ment to mention that. Also, the Times said the Lakers were working Kwame some at the wing/four, so maybe he does get some run with Bynum.

    Turiaf has not even been dressed the last two games, I find that an odd choice, but I think kwame a. is right, they will need him tonight.


  5. Assuming you throw Ronny out there and Farmar rests, is Sasha or McKie your 3rd inactive?


  6. i heard turiaf has had a hip injury, but can’t find out whether or not thats true


  7. If Ronny is injured, then I guess he’s the third. If not, the Lakers have been saying McKie would dress, so….


  8. 6. now that you mention it, the LA Times did note last week that Turiaf had a bruised hip, but he was supposed to be back for Tornono. So….


  9. Tonight would be a good night for the Lakers to start lowering their turnovers.


  10. From yesterday:

    “Health Notes: Jordan Farmar’s twisted ankle could keep him out of Tuesday’s game. Like all of us, he’s day to day. As for Ronny Turiaf, he practiced Monday afternoon, and is somewhere between questionable and probable for tomorrow. Given the amount of bigs the Clips can throw at you, look for Turiaf to suit up.”


  11. Smush and Kwame give me headaches. I get scared every time Smush shoots and I see Kwame try and catch something. It was a very wierd feeling watching them stink up the joint against Chicago except for those two (totally awesome) dunks and then reading the next day that Kwame had the best OER on the team. Did those passes he missed go down as turnovers for Kobe or something? I really hope they step up their games a bit. It was really fun watch Kwame at the end of last year, maybe we can hook him up with the Cap for some private lessons or something?


  12. I like the early movesby the Laker coaches — Bynum on Brand, then on offense have Odom out top as facilitator bringing Brand with him and posting Kobe up. It worked great until Bynumpicks up the second foul jumping into a pick and when Kwame came in they lost the rhythm.

    That and Cassell has abused Smush a couple times.


  13. But Kobe looks sharp — and healthy.


  14. It’s a weird game but you can tell the players are certainly intense, rivalry or not.


  15. 1 FT to 14? I’m out of this one. Some VERY shaky calls. Don’t ever try to say their isn’t a fix. Ever.


  16. Oh grow up….Clips haven’t made any concerted effort to get to the hoop tonight at all. Or have you allowed yourself to notice that? Heck, most of Brand and Kaman’s shots have been fades…

    Anyways, it seems like the Clips game plan is to go after Bynum in the paint.


  17. John R. gonna run back in here now that the refs are parading the Clips to the line? Or is he going to realize that aggressive play gets you calls?


  18. I take back the comments I made earlier in #11. Smush and Kwame are both having pretty good games.

    As I was typing that sentence, Smush went out-of-control to the hoop and almost turned it over twice before Kobe bailed him out. He still has some things to work on I suppose, but as long as he’s knocking down open three pointers I’ll stay off his case.


  19. Who knew UPS was clutch?


  20. This is why you don’t trade Kobe….for these games.


  21. As if it was even a thought in anyone but John R’s mind…


  22. Nice clutch play, and free throw making, by UPS. He said when he came back that his shoulder was hurting his free throws, but he made some down the stretch.

    That was a close one. I was worried after we didn’t score for almost 6 minutes in the 4th quarter.

    The free throw difference was huge, but they got 6 free throws total from Brand, Kaman, and Thomas. We got 22 from Odom, Bynum, and UPS. That accounts for most of the disparity. Kobe went to the line 18 times but Maggette went 11. No other Clipper had more than 4.


  23. Good teams win close games. This one felt good. Time to celebrate until the Utah game.


  24. Forget the free throw disparity, both Kobe and Lamar had to sit the last few minutes of the first half due to foul trouble. Only some one like Isiah would try to fix a game like that.


  25. small balll…tall ball…what wins is smart ball. and this game was a good example. I liked the way kobe and lamar were playing off each other. also, it seems like the players are realizing their coach, and his staff know what they are talking about and the value it brings to the total strength of the team if they follow “the plan”.
    I also like the way they didn’t give up in the 4th when the clips made their run at the game, they dug in, even fell behind some, but came through with tenacity and hard work, (I know, John R, there was a huge free throw disparity…but that wasn’t the reason for the outcome). in my opinion, it was the fact that they could have phoned it in when the clips took that lead, but they didn’t, they really fought through it and basically wore them down. the team depth really showed tonight.


  26. Though Kobe put up great numbers, the Lakers TEAM legitimately pushed their way into first place in the West. When the Smusher and Kwame each make both free throws with the game on the line, things are going your way.


  27. You don’t want the team to depend on Kobe, but there are nights like tonight when he gets you the wins. Kobee shot 54.5% (eFG%), the rest of the team 37.1%. And while Joel Meyers was bitching about the threes (and they did go through a stretch where they settled), the Lakers shot 40% from beyond the arc for the night and I’ll take that every game.


  28. hey kurt, i was going to make a snarky comment about you saying that the link to eric neel is on the left, when it’s clearly on the right. but then i realized — it’s YOUR left. so…never mind.

    just want to say that i’m living very far away this season, and i’m relying on you to keep me informed about this team. you haven’t let me down — thanks!

    first place in the pacific division! woo hoo!

    (by the way, who would have guessed two years ago that the top four teams in the west today would include the lakers, the jazz, and the hornets? crazy.)


  29. Where you at John R.? Whats all this talk about a LA being a Clipper town now anyways? The Lakers have 14 titles and have been in over 20 finals. Not to mention we’ve made the playoffs almost every years as a franchise. So one year the Clippers win two more games than us and advance one more round in the playoffs and its now this is a Clipper town. You gotta be kidding me.


  30. I won’t even respond to LaFleur beyond this sentence because I never said any of those things. Rather juvenile of you. But I expect nothing less from the average Lakers fan.

    “I know, John R, there was a huge free throw disparity…but that wasn’t the reason for the outcome.”

    Actually, yes. Yes it was. Given the MASSIVE descrepency in FG% and FT%, and negligent differences in blocks, steals, rebounds and points off turnovers.

    Yes, the “huge free throw disparity” as you so perfectly put it, WAS the reason for the outcome. It takes a special bit of mental gymnastics to claim otherwise.

    But lets put this into further perspecitve. The team that was -10 tonight in foul differential WAS leading the league in that category before tonight. The previous game, AI was limited to 4 FTA. In prior encounters this season CP3 was held to 5, Melo to 4, Dirk to 7 and in two encounters, no Sun got more than 7.

    What changed about how the Clippers play that now they are giving up 46 FTA? To be honest with ourselves, we have to say that it is unlikely the Clippers significantly altered how they defend.

    You should start asking hard questions when a team shoots 37% and wins. What happened? What was weird about this game? Rebounds are about the same, shot attempts, turnovers and points off…nope none of that if a factor this time. There is only one big difference.

    Lakers fans have never traditionally been big on such endeavors, preferring story arc and drama to basketball and facts.

    And please, notice the time stamp of my prediction. Start of the second quarter. The game was within 1 point, but the outcome was already clear based on how the game was being called.


  31. Loved how Kobe moved the offense away from himsalf in crunch time, allowing the offense to run through the post and letting Kwame get a dime to Luke. That after a game where I felt he regressed a little in his quest for a team concept.

    I can’t complain about one turnover, though.

    That lineup to start the fourth was killing me. (Odom, Bynum, Radman, Evans, Vujacic), but a nice job was done of weathering an 11-0 run and answering it with a 12-2.

    Luke Walton is really showing us he has what it takes to be a legit contributor in this league, and Smush Parker got a nice lesson from professor Cassell tonight.


  32. You know, offensive rebounds and actually putting yourself in a position to be fouled have something to do with it as well John. Lakers rebounded and were more aggressive to the hoop. That
    results in more fouls. You are right, there was a discrepency, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t earned.

    Good teams find ways to win even when their shot isn’t falling. Do we need to ask ourselves how the Lakers won only shooting 37%? I think we need to say ‘way to dig deep and get the win’.

    Also, it is very “pot calling the kettle black” of you to chastise other members making comments that you find rude and/or unecessary. I see you take the high road by insulting back “I expect nothing less from the average lakers fan.” Very mature of you, I see where you were going with that point.


  33. So you got the point Elyse. Saying this and that about a person, especially when they didn’t say the things you claim they said isn’t nice.

    No, rebounds were not the difference. Of course you have a few more offensive rebounds when you miss so many more shots. But FGA’s were 89 to 85. MORE than made up for by the fact that the Lakers can’t hit the side of a barn from the field. Made FG’s was not the difference. Nor was going aggressively to the hoop. On what planet is taking turn around mid-range jump shots going aggressively to the hoop? And how can you possibly get fouled in that act? Answer, you can’t, but that didn’t stop Joey and Co. Getting really bad bail out calls all night is not going aggressively to the hoop.

    The fact at the end of the day is the refs spotted the Lakers 15 points (75% of 20 FTAs sounds about right), kept all key Clippers in foul trouble at all times, yet they only won by 4.

    If the game was properly officiated beginning in the first quarter (when the Lakers couldn’t make a FG to save their lives), it would have been a Clippers blowout start to finish. Still playing 5v8, the team without any alleged rapists almost pulled it out.


  34. Nothing good ever comes out of arguing with John R., so why bother?


  35. Okay, the Lakers had a 15 point advantage on free throws made. The Lakers also had a 15 point advantage on 3-pointers made. The Clippers had a 26 point advantage on 2-pointers made. That gets you the 4 points that the Lakers won by.

    First, it was not only the free throw line that contributed to the Lakers win. The 3-point advantage was equally important.

    Second, the free throw discrepancy can essentially be attributed to Kobe getting to the line 18 times and making 15.

    Third, it was Brand or Cassell’s job to drive the lane and instigate contact to counteract this. They are the Clippers superstars and could get the calls if they played with the “new rules” in mind.

    Fourth, as regards to how little free throws previous Cllippers opponents have received, I’ll run down the list.

    1. The Suns are not playing well right now. End of line.

    2. Dirk and the Mavs were in that 4 game skid to start the season when he was held to 7 FTA. Dirk is now on fire and I doubt it would be that way again.

    3. The Melo game was Denver’s first game of the year. He didn’t find his groove for a couple of games. Or to put it another way, the night after the Clippers game, defensive powerhouse Minnesota held Melo to 2 FTA.

    4. The Philly game with AI. The Clippers barely won that sucker in OT. It must have been due to their 33 FTM vs Philly’s 18 FTM. Obviously the NBA fixed that game so it doesn’t count. I know it was fixed because there was a large discrepancy at the free throw line.

    Look, I know it’s no fun when the other team gets to the line and your team doesn’t. But that does not mean a “fix” is in. It happens. Sometimes your team benefits, sometimes they don’t.


  36. On another note: I see why Clippers fans are excited about Livingston. When that guy’s on he just kills. If Sam tires as the season wears on, I could definitely see him taking the starting job.


  37. Ooh, mistake on my part. Minnesota is pretty good defensively. Not top 5, but good.


  38. From the LA Times:

    “It was tough,” said Clipper forward Elton Brand, who had 20 points and 15 rebounds. “They got a lot of offensive rebounds and the turnovers, you just can’t do that. And then down the stretch, when you’ve got a guy like Kobe who can hit big shots, you just can’t put yourself in that position.”


  39. “Third, it was Brand or Cassell’s job to drive the lane and instigate contact to counteract this. They are the Clippers superstars and could get the calls if they played with the “new rules” in mind.”

    If that is Lakers fan’s view of basketball, it explains alot of things. If the offense is instagating the contact it shouldn’t be a foul. Your divergent view of the rules of basketball is a brand of basketball I am not interested in, but is definitely a rule set that benefits a team that can’t shoot. I prefer playing within the rules as written, not enforced at random by the NBA. This is where my frustration comes from, that the game was so poorly officiated that it grossly affected the outcome, not the outcome itself.

    You kinda miss the boat Rob. You admit without the 15 point FT advantage, an artificial advantage created by the officials either through fix or “home court advantage” or general incompentence (it doesn’t really matter to me, motive isn’t as important as consequence), its a Clipper blowout. That was my point exactly. You can have all the 3’s they made. ITS NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE UP THE DIFFERENCE.

    If I watch the game, I bet it will be trivial to find 10 FTA’s the Lakers received that they didn’t deserve. This is a Lakers team that averages 31 FTA per game (AFTER last night’s game which obviously shot the number up) playing against a Clippers team that is known for its defense while not committing fouls. Why the jump to 46? Because its precisely how many it took to keep them in the game the whole way. Weird that that random number of 15 keeps popping up. A reasonable man has to admit that 50% is a significant deviation from the mean.

    So who wants to debate me and Rob?


  40. John R,

    I brought up the 3-point advantage that the Lakers had to show that they beat the Clippers badly in that aspect. Your previous posts had intimated that the Lakers only had a FT advantage. That was not true.

    Initiating contact on offense in order to get to the line is not my preferred style of basketball in the NBA. But that’s the way the game is today. The Lakers will take advantage of the rules just like any other team. Elton Brand certainly took advantage against Philly when he shot 18 FTs. The same amount Kobe shot last night. Brand didn’t play that way last night. That contributed to the Clippers loss.

    Yes I admit a 15 point advantage on FTs. How does that lead you to the conclusion that I agree that those FTs were undeserved? That is faulty logic.

    If I watch the Philly game I bet it will be trivial to find 10 FTAs the Clippers received that they didn’t deserve. See, just because I wrote that sentence doesn’t make it true. Were you frustrated with that game being so poorly officiated that it affected the outcome?

    You also seem to think that because the Clippers deviated from their season averages it means that the fix was in. That is faulty logic.


  41. Correction: Brand shot 14 that night.


  42. Rob, I give you credit for being able to admit some things that many would never. Very respectable.

    “Your previous posts had intimated that the Lakers only had a FT advantage.”

    If you got that impressions lets chaulk it up to miscommunication. The point, and it still stands as you mostly agreed in 40., is that without the FTA differential (20, not just 15), the other things don’t matter. And only the FTA number is way out of whack. Lets call that claims 1a and 1b. I don’t think 1a and 1b are disputable. Why call out shooting 8-20 from downtown? That happens often. Why call out a rebounding difference of a handful? The turnover difference when the Clippers actually won points off turnovers? All of that pales in comparison to the far outside of norms fouls and FTA. You add all of that up and you still lose by 11. Focus on the thing that was unusual. Its the only rational way to approach the situation.

    ” Elton Brand certainly took advantage against Philly when he shot 18 FTs. (14)”

    EB is 27th in FTA in the league. Almost dead last among first options. I will make a suggestion that you can easily refute if you so choose. You haven’t watched a Clippers game before last night. EB is subject to the Shaq rules of contact, not the Lakers/Wade rules. If EB is at the line, its usually the result of a mugging or 3, not getting breathed on. He doesn’t so much take advantage of the situation, as suffers through it. The rules for Kobe are not the same rules EB plays under, so please stop with the “play aggressive create contact” tripe. Leave that grade-school analysis to the Lakers TV and radio crews. Its not your fault they drilled that garbage into your head. Its how they explain away to the locals the Lakers getting every call when they need it. And they needed it from the opening tip forward last night.

    “Yes I admit a 15 point advantage on FTs. How does that lead you to the conclusion that I agree that those FTs were undeserved?”

    It doesn’t inherently, but at least the discussion is open. So far no commenter has really been willing to acknowledge the situation of claims 1a and 1b.

    “If I watch the Philly game I bet it will be trivial to find 10 FTAs the Clippers received that they didn’t deserve. See, just because I wrote that sentence doesn’t make it true. Were you frustrated with that game being so poorly officiated that it affected the outcome?”

    I’ll respond to this in 2 parts. I watched the first quarter of last nights game, and there were 4-6 that were undeserved. That’s most of the way there. My claim about the 46 freethrows is neither wild nor irresponsible. Its a fact that Kobe got to the line multiple times without even being touched. He yells out so the whistle blows.

    Second, as a basketball fan, my favorite games to watch are un- or locally televised affairs between two forgotten teams. This is a big part of the reason I’m a Cippers season ticket holder. Noone cares who wins this game so the players are allowed to play. Its the only way to see clean basketball in the NBA. In-person, during the regular season when noone is watching. The Philly game was decently officiated. If you do watch it, note how they interpret the palming rule according to the league’s new guidelines since its unlikely you will see Kobe called when he is guilty. A good job all around by those officials.

    “You also seem to think that because the Clippers deviated from their season averages it means that the fix was in. That is faulty logic. ”

    The Clippers didn’t significantly deviate from their season averages. Its actually almost impossible. FTA and fouls for one direction SIGNIFICANTLY deviated from season averages for both teams and the league as a whole. Again, I don’t care if its the fix, home court advantage, just bad work, Joey being Joey, etc. My contention is that it is highly unlikley that the Clippers played defense so different as to cause this situation. I contend the opposite: the Clippers didn’t deviate at all. My contention is that for whatever reason, the rules changed, not the Clippers.

    Oh, Lakers home foul differential update: -5.75
    Next closest average: SA -3.81

    Again, I’m more about basketball than I am the Clippers. Though its because Im about basketball that I have pulled for the Clippers. What happened last night was a sin against basketball.

    Did you know the league average for FTA attempts last year was 26.3? Or that the all-time record for FTA is only 86 requiring 5 OTs and was set in 1949?


  43. John R: I never said that you ever said anything about this being a Clipper town. I was not reffering to anything you ever said when I said that, but media buzz in general. Get over yourself and stop making everything about you. Loser.


  44. Oh I say your a loser because only whiny losers blame losses on the refs. Its dillisional and you should seek help because you probably have a mental disorder.


  45. As a note, the 15 point difference in FTs I mentioned referred to FTM. But yes, there was a 20 shot difference in FTA.

    In any case, I think we’re at a stand still here. It is interesting to me that the heart of this debate seems to relate to the new rules interpretations in the NBA. I actually agree with you John that they kind of stink. But by this point no team can claim to be surprised by them. So I say if the Lakers can take advantage, for better or for worse it’s part of the game now. After last year’s NBA Finals a team would be foolish to not replicate Miami.

    I looked at Brand’s season FT stats. They are lower than I would have thought, though they seem to be on pace for a normal season for Elton. He’s 33 of 55 so far. Just for fun I looked at Dirk’s numbers so far. He’s 87 of 96. Dang. I guess EB doesn’t get the calls. But I honestly believe that he’s at the level he could. If he needs to alter his game, then he should. It’s the way the NBA is now. Maggette seems to have done well in this regard so far this year. Dude’s 52 of 67. 6th man indeed.


  46. The appropriate action as a consumer when faced with something that is bad or wrong is to not buy the product. Unfortunately for this season I am stuck with my purchase, but I can complain loudly about it.

    There is nothing EB can do to change his situation. He is not among the Untouchables and will never be.
    Trouble is, I like it that way. If he started taking advantage of the situation, which again is impossible, I would think less of him. The real problem is my enjoyment of the game is diminished since the large doses of it derived from game theory and notions of fair competition under the rules of a sport are dissolved into nothing when the rules are not the same for everyone.

    Maggette has always been among the league leaders in FTA, but again, there is never any question about the contact when 50 gets to the line. This doesn’t have anything to do with the new rules. I have seen him chop blocked without getting a call until he landed flat on his back and only then after the layup missed.

    This game was not officiated, for whatever reason, like any other game involving the Clippers this season, and probably the Lakers too. I’m basing my Lakers assumption on the fact that no Laker averages 10 FTA per, and 2 got there last night. Just seems out of the ordinary.

    For the record, Joe Crawford was involved in this game too: I’m just saying. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t know that multiple refs have been convicted of fraud? And why do we even know their names?

    The Clippers won the game on the court by 11, but the refs won by 15. It is what it is.

    I’m done. I only came to put down those that would crow about the victory and to demonstrate to them what actually happened. I feel I have been highly successful in this regard. To revel in what happened last night would take a myopic…nah, that would just be redundant.


  47. I still think that EB and Dunleavy could capitalize on the way the game is being called now if they focused on it. You can claim that only superstars get to the line, but it ain’t true. Even Carlos Boozer has gotten to the line 66 times this year. This is well above the rates of his previous seasons. And it ain’t because the NBA wants to promote Carlos Boozer. It’s partly that his team is better, so he needs to be fouled. It’s partly that he (or Sloan) seems to have recognized the change in the game and responded accordingly. If Boozer can do it, you aren’t going to convince me that Elton Brand can’t.

    Wishing it wasn’t a part of the game is one thing. Ignoring it is another. Teams may as well ignore the 3-point line.


  48. John R, you have only “succeeded greatly” in questioning your objectivity. There were questionable fouls both ways, even a non-foul called AGAINST Kobe at the end of the second quarter. Perhaps there were more fouls called then normal during this game, but the referees seemed pretty consistent about calling fouls. Sam Cassell got a couple of touch fouls called his way during his third quarter run. The referees didn’t hand the game to the Lakers, the Clippers did. Either way, bring on the Jazz 🙂


  49. I seem to have found one Clipper fan who agrees that the FT discrepancy had something to do with the way the Lakers played:

    “Give the Lakers credit – they were taking the ball aggressively to the basket, and earning trips to the line…I would bitch about Kobe getting all the calls, but even if you take out his 18 FTs, the Kobettes still went to the line 7 more times than the Clippers. That’s not officiating – that’s aggressiveness.”

    That quote is from ClipperSteve at Clips Nation.