Game Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

Kurt —  December 16, 2007

Records: Lakers 13-9; Clippers 9-13
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.8 (8th); Clippers 101.1 (28th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.2 (13th); Clippers 104.9 (9th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Clippers: Brevin Knight, Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette, Tim Thomas, Chris “what hair?” Kaman.

Lakers Notes:Kobe Bryant is a game-time decision with a strained (or slightly torn, depending on the report) quadricep. Regular readers here know my feeling on these things — this early in the season you rest those injuries. You don’t want some nagging injury that hurts the team over months rather than Kobe just missing a game or three.

If Kobe sits, and frankly even if he plays as he won’t be 100%, somebody is going to have to step up and be the key focus on the offense. There are two candidates here: Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. Bynum will face some challenges tonight as Kaman is a big, strong body in the paint that will make it hard for Bynum to consistently get that deep position he likes, and (at times) Kaman shows nifty footwork and good quickness on the defensive end. The other problem for Bynum: He has been getting poor post feeds from Odom and Fisher, making it harder for him to get the ball where he wants it.

Odom, who has born the brunt of some Lakers fans frustration of late, is capable of putting up a great game. The problem is I’m not sure we’ve seen that kind of smart and consistent play since his first game back from the injury. If Kobe sits the Lakers need more than just the usual 13 and 8 from him tonight, he needs to step up.

One other guy who could have a big night — Derek Fisher. He will have a lesser PG on him and this could be a night he steps up big.

And we’ll finish with one interesting stat: Since the trade, Trevor Ariza’s PER is 22.1, which would be second best on the team behind Kobe. Hopefully Phil will start to show more faith in him at key times.

The Clippers Coming In: UPDATED: Kevin at the brilliantClipperblog, who is the best X’s and O’s blogger out there, was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about the two key offensive cogs for the Clips, and so I’ve included those in this preview now:

The Clippers have been without their best player for the entire season (and maybe their second best, Sam Cassell, for weeks). That said the Clippers have been respectable this year because they are playing good team defense.

Two guys have really stepped up on offense — Chris Kaman and Corry Maggette.

Kaman has become a force in the paint, making up somewhat for the loss of Brand. He is shooting 50%, using 20% of the offense when he’s on the floor (up from 17% the season before), and scoring 19 points per 40 minutes. He gets most of his shots right at the basket, using his big body to get position or rebound putbacks (he is grabbing 19% of the available rebounds on the floor, near the top of the league), but he can hit a 12 to 15-footer if open, particularly straight on (he is solid in the high post).

I asked Kevin: Is Kaman playing better because of changes in his game, because of the absence of Brand or some combination?

As Brand did in the summer of 2005, Kaman whipped himself into shape. Whether it’s conditioning, or just mental focus, Kaman is considerably more agile. Where he’d bring the ball down toward the floor last season or take a tentative quasi-jab step, this season he’s considerably more decisive moving toward the hoop. Having said that, I think Chris is much more comfortable on the strong side. And Elton’s absence on the block is one less thing for Chris to worry about as he sets up low.

Maggette has always been able to get to the hole and he shoots well there and gets to the line a lot — he is averaging 9.1 free throw attempts per game, which is more than Kobe. He can shoot the corner three if you leave him open, but the book on him has always been to turn him into a midrange shooter.

I asked Kevin: What about Corey Maggette, who is playing well this season. A matter of opportunity or is he doing something he didn’t do before?

To some extent, Corey’s improvement started toward the end of last season. He’s making better decision and is working a little harder off the ball. As an example, Corey [via Dunleavy?] recognized the other night against Miami that he could handle Dorell Wright in the post. Now, Corey’s inclination is to receive the ball out on the wing. But he understood that the mismatch was low…so that’s where he went and it paid off. That aside, I think Corey’s most profound improvement has been defensively.

Also, the Clippers have got someone with some promise in Al Thorton. He’s still trying to find his shot at the NBA level (shooting 40.3% eFG%) but he is grabbing 11.9% of the available rebounds. He’s going to be a quality NBA player.

Quote I found interesting: From Phil Jackson, in today’s OC Register, talking about the steroid issue in baseball:

“It’s not been known in our game,” he said. “But I’ve been aware of human growth hormone for 15 years and that’s the biggest rage now.”

Keys To The Game: The Kaman/Bynum battle should be an interesting one, Kaman has given the Lakers problems the last couple of years but if Bynum puts out the kind of effort on defense he did on Dwight Howard he can have a big impact. He’ll also get help, Phil said the Lakers would double Kaman in the post, and basically dare the Clippers to beat the Lakers from the outside.

On defense, the Lakers (without Kobe or even with the injured version) don’t have anyone who can play Maggette well on the perimeter, but I’d put Odom on him and have him play off him some, daring him to take the outside shot (please, Phil, no Walton on Maggette). On the whole I’d pack the defense in some against a team shooting just 45.9% (eFG%) this season, 28th in the league.

This is also a game the Lakers bench could be key — Farmar is going to have Dan Dickau on him and should be able to have a good night. Radmanovic and the rest of the guys off the bench should be able to give the Lakers a boost against a weaker Clips second unit.

Tonight’s Game: Where Rivalry Happens: Some Lakers fans don’t think of the Clippers as a rival, but the Clips see it that way and they really have been the better team the last three years. It will be interesting to see how the Lakers play without or with a hobbled Kobe, but good teams step up and win these games.

Where you can watch: Game time is 6:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KTLA (5) the Clippers broadcast team (who I think are better) or tune into Fox Sports to catch the Lakers broadcasters. Or, on a controversial foul, flip between the two and watch two semi-homer broadcasters have completely different takes.

Kurt

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61 responses to Game Preview & Chat: The Los Angeles Clippers

  1. I made comments yesterday after the Golden State game. I was trying to make comparison between Luke and Trevor productivity during the last few games before the vs GS game.

    Besides Kobe’s injury, it was the coaching decision that make Lakers lose Friday night by playing Luke too much time over Ariza.

    Here is the fact. The last four games before Friday’s game, the key statistics of these two players are

    T.Ariza
    Min/game: 20.5
    FT: 73.75% (more than 26 attempts)
    Assist: 1.25
    TO: 0.5
    Asist vs TO: 0.75 = 1.25 – 0.5
    Pts/game: 8.75

    L. Walton
    Min/game: 23
    FT: 0 % (only 3 attempts)
    Assist: 1.25
    TO: 1.5
    Asist vs TO: -0.25 = 1.25 – 1.5
    Pts/game: 7.25

    Plus last night, L. Walton Assist vs TO: -2 = 2 – 4 (only two assists over 4 TO’s). Conclusion, L.Walton lately has been contraproductive to Lakers.

  2. Why would I flip between the two when I could just wait for John R. to complain in the comments about any call that could go either way? ;-)

  3. i would argue that cassell is the best player on the team, over brand. brand is clearly the more talented player, but cassell knows how to win. whats brands record without cassell?

  4. Man…

    The dream of having Stu Lantz and Ralph Lawler on the same broadcast table.

    I’m excited to see Kaman and Bynum match up. This could be a very good indication of Bynum’s progress. If he has a big game, I’ll officially jump on the “make drew the 2nd option” bandwagon.

  5. Sorry for the double…

    but I did some googling and I found this…

    “Hey Ralph,

    Of all the on-air counterparts you have had, you and Mike seem to have a good chemistry. Bill Walton was Mr. Negative with all the sarcasim he would use. Nevertheless, I enjoy yours and Mike’s work. Who has been your favorite?

    Efren Ochoa

    Efren –

    I’ve been very lucky to work with some wonderful and talented people from Hubie Brown and Mike Fratello through Walton and Mikesmith. Few people know that my first partner on our telecasts in San Diego was a fellow named Stu Lantz. ”

    Ha!

  6. Phil Jackson made the wrong decision to leave Kobe in the game at Golden State on Friday.

    When Kobe got injured it was apparent to all and Don Nelson directed his offense at Kobe. Kobe was a liability both on defense and offense. He could not defend his man nor drive or elevate on offense. Besides, his shooting prior to the injury was subpar. So I really cannot understand why Phil left him in the game with the Lakers up by 8 and a bit more than 3 minutes to go. Was the great Phil just trying to stay in Kobe’s good books? This lost goes in the head coach’s column.

    Apparently, Phil still do not have confidense in his subs even though they are the #1 bench in the league. (Forget the Spurs because Ginobli who leads the Spurs in scoring is essentially a starter and is always in the game when things get rough.)

  7. I’m amazed that the NBA has not suspended Barnes for his hit on Turiaf. To me, the only reason seems to be that the refs wrongly assigned a flagrant-1 to the foul (I think flagrant-2′s are automatically reviewed by the league). I think the Barnes flagrant was much worse than the Horford flagrant on Ford, as Horford at least appeared to be swiping at the ball. The Barnes flagrant was a two-handed blow to the head, without any attempt at all on the ball.

  8. Rest Kobe tonight, even if it means a loss. Not worth taking a chance at making this injury drag out.

  9. They’re on KTLA tonight, sir.

    Someday you’ll get the tv info right, I can feel it.

  10. I’d rest Kobe unless their is no lingering soreness (which I seriously doubt). Its better to rest Kobe now for a few games then to have a nagging injury that could become something more serious down the road. I’d rather not have Kobe now for 2-3 games then not to have him in February/March for a couple of weeks.

  11. 9. What is my block with getting the listings right? Anyway, fixed now. Thanks.

  12. Robz-thanks for your definition of BA in the previous (GS Warriors) game thread. What do people think about the BA stat? It just doesn’t seem all that important to me. And now Yahoo is tracking the time players are in to the seconds. That’s irritating when trying to scan box scores in the interests of fantasy teams…..and really, why do we need the amount to the second the players are in? Oh well…..I’m sure some people appreciate it.

  13. I want to second the need for the league to re-assess Barnes’ foul on Ronny. That should have been a 2 and he should have been gone. I like Barnes’ energy but he has moments like that when he just gets a bit too crazy and goes off. He sort of reminds me of Rick Fox in that manner in that Foxy could be the enforcer every so often….still an’ all, Barnes really should be suspended for that shot. I know someone mentioned it in the previous (GS Warriors) game thread also.

  14. The Lakers also need to take care of the ball this game. I think with Odom generating the bulk of the offense along with Walton will cause ball-handling problems.

    Let Derek Fisher generate the offense, he is a veteran.

  15. 8-what he said

  16. This makes me sad for Smush:
    http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/12/16/is-smush-parkers-nba-career-over/
    I really hope he makes it work some place as a backup.

  17. UPDATE: I’d suggest re-reading the Clippers preview part of this post, I added some very insightful comments from Kevin at Clipperblog about Kaman and Maggette. He backs up my contention he is the most basketball savvy team blogger out there.

  18. the other Stephen December 16, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    farmar needs steroids. and so does odom. on his left bicep. so he can maybe make some threes.

  19. 14-Kevin’s blog is great…if he only he were a fan of the right team.

  20. dude, I agree with you on that flagrant call, that was bush league, and I’m dissapointed in the league office for not being consistent, remember that BS when they suspended Kobe a couple times lat year? pure BS!

    I hope we get to see some of Trevor on maguette tonight. seems like a good chance to see him playing or eveolving into our defensive specialist.

  21. hope Kobe sits out and have other players get some PT. It’s still somewhat early in the season, we’re not in a desperate situation W-L wise, we don’t want to aggravate injuries, and it’s a good time to develop secondary players.

    although i’m a believer of 2pts in the 1st quarter being worth just as much as 2pts in the last minute, human nature (or just me who’s used to cramming before deadlines) makes the latter half of the season just more important, so i’d be happy to sacrifice a few games now.

  22. Mike in the Mountain West December 16, 2007 at 7:44 pm

    If the reports about Smush and the valet are true I have no sympathy for him. He clearly doesn’t have the maturity or talent to play on the NBA level.

  23. Smush, on his quest for his million dollars, may not seem to get it after all. For what?! 12 bucks?!

    I hope Kobe rests and we get to see Crittenton play backup SG tonight. I can envision my boy Farmar having a big game… say… 18pts and 4 threes?

  24. On the FSN pregame show, Norm Nixon asked Kobe what he wanted for Christmas. Kobe’s response, “A Championship”.

  25. dang it, kobe is in the lineup… hopefully he doesn’t aggrevate it or he’s in better shape than what’s been reported.

  26. Mike in the Mountain West December 16, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    How does Kobe look on the floor. Spiro hasn’t said he looks hesitant and he’s producing.

    Is Turiaf injured?

  27. Kobe looks good. Not aggressive in going to the hole, but shooting very well.

    In other news…..

    I’ll be surprised if Bynum isn’t an allstar next year. He needs A LOT more touches.

  28. Bynum is an impact player THIS SEASON, I will own up and say that I did not expect that at all…but boy am I happy

  29. 26. They are giving Kobe too much space, he doesn’t want to drive and he had room to shoot from the outside, and they are biting on his fakes to create more room. That said, he still looks much better than I expected. Not 100% but pretty dang good.

  30. Bynum is having one of his best defensive games so far.

  31. IF Al Jefferson cannot be an all-star this year, Bynum still can’t next year.

    Kobe is shooting well. And the Lakers are running away from the Clips. Yipee-Ka-Yey.

  32. Kobe is tipping rebounds to other Lakers because he can’t jump. I’m praying he doesn’t aggravate the groin.

  33. Warren-Jefferson plays for a terrible team, remember Shareef used to be a 20-10 player, and never made the all-star game. Bynum has real impact on wins and loses, and coaches know that. He probably won’t make it this year, but if he starts next year and keeps improving, I’m sure he’ll be one soon.

  34. 33. Jefferson has been in nothing but bad situations. It’s hard to say what he could do in a good one this early, but I think he can be an impact player with the right cast.

  35. Andrew blocked five shots in the first half, three of them were Kaman’s, who was shut out in the first half until he was put back in because Mihm was in the game. He then proceeded to light up poor Mihm, who also dropped at least two passes during his short stint.

  36. For the record, my arms look just like Maggette’s.

    (my wife wishes…)

  37. 36, Kurt, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

    Anyway, Bynum is having fun. I want to see him get more blocks and go for the triple double.

  38. I dont take back what I’ve been saying about Luke since the summer…but I’m glad he’s shooting well.

  39. Honestly, just after college I worked night shifts at a restaurant and during the day played beach volleyball or basketball, or worked out, and I was in the best shape of my life. And my arms were nothing like that.

  40. Luke shoots well when you give him all that space. But if it helps his confidence…..

  41. Sort of off-topic, but PJ did mention HGH during a recent interview. Although steroids and bulking up seems considered ineffective by many players, many have bulked up considerably, there are many more scout reports emphasizing strength, and I don’t think all of it is due to better diet/training, etc.

    But it’s a pandora’s box, investigating drug and other hormone use, and I’m certainly not ready to open that box yet. I really don’t want to hear player A, who worked so hard over the offseason, was aided by substance X, etc. Not after all the Donaghy stuff.

  42. 8 rebounds on 1 leg is not right.

  43. +/- for # 24 is +31.

    Very disturbing on one good leg.

  44. ahh, winning does cure it all indeed. it is good to see kobe smiling with his teammates at the end of the game. fsn is interviewing luke right now, but i could see bynum on the background being interviewed. kinda curious what bynum is talking about.

  45. Kurt,
    “For the record, my arms look just like Maggette’s”

    You mean you have the same tattoos?

  46. I think he would prefer to have Radman’s arms anyways..
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/teams/photo?photoId=1758289&team=gsw
    HGH for the win?

  47. Andrew Bynum is a BEAST. How fun it is to watch this kid dunk all over everyone and block all those shots. I had no idea Bynum was going to become this special. If he stays hungry and keeps working hard the sky is the limit.

    Much props to Andrew Bynum tonight–played like a warrior.

  48. 33. If you’re referring to Shareef Abdur-Rahim, he actually did make the all-star team in 2002.

    Great game and matchup with Bynum and Kaman tonight.

  49. The Guy Formerly Known As Lamar Odom December 17, 2007 at 12:11 am

    Kaman had nothing on Bynum tonight. it was awesome!!! Kobe should’ve sat out, though.

    Since when have Stu and the other guy referred to Sasha as “The Machine”? It’s hilarious!!! I LOVE it!!! It’s a keeper. But really? Since when? Today was the first game I heard them call him that. It cracked me up every time I heard it!

  50. Yet another game where the fourth quarter clamps came down, after playing well enough to be in a position to win.

    Yet another game where we look like a maturing team.

  51. yao ming is a lock for the center position for the all-star game. Duncan was moved to forward. I’m just curious who else will be in serious contention for the 2nd C slot? Camby? Amare (is he really a center?) Chandler? Aldrige? How far do you think is bynum from seriously being considered an all star? 1? 2 seasons?

  52. (16) Carter,

    It is very kind of you to feel sympathy for Smush Parker. As a person, Smush may be a tragic figure.

    However, as an NBA player, Smush never got “it.” In many ways the Smusher never stopped trying to be the showiest athlete on the playground. No one ever taught him the right “team” way to play basketball.

    While you’re feeling sorry for Smush, save a little sympathy for Laker fans–and the Laker team–and now the Miami Heat. We’ve suffered too.

    Besides, they’ll take him back in Europe.

  53. 48-The season Shareef made the all-star game was with Atlanta, in the Leastern Conference where somebody has to be an all-star. When he was with the Grizz in the West he never made it, and as long as Minny is as bad as they are, I don’t care what number Jefferson puts up, him and Bynum aren’t the same. bynum is putting up numbers on a team that looks to be a contender.

  54. I didn’t see the game so maybe someone can explain the 18 offensive rebounds. Some of it was probably due to the low shooting percentage, but 18 is still a lot. Bynum stat line looked pretty impressive, and so did Kobe’s considering he was playing on a bad leg. Did he look like he was favoring that leg? I read where he said that he couldn’t make big strides because it was too sore.

  55. 49. Turiaf hardly played, so outside of Bynum we never really had another big body in their rebounding (I don’t know why Turiaf hardly played). Also, the Clippers got quite a few long rebounds off three point bricks.

    Kobe didn’t look like he favored his leg, but he never drove to the basket ever, just shot jumpers.

    Bynum was a beast down low. Some of his dunks make me get up off my couch and jump for joy–he is playing phenomenal b-ball for a 20 year old.

    In case you are curious, Lamar took several jumpers that didn’t even think about coming close to going in–i mean true bricks. And Lamar almost air balled a free throw. Lamar’s jump shot is officially broken.

  56. It’s not looking like Mihm is regaining his form. A quarter of the season in and he clearly isn’t even a servicable backup C. Wish Kwame Brown had a heart (or huevos) and stepped on the court like Kobe did. We need another big, he could be that guy

  57. kwame a.
    I thought Chris made some strides this game and he had that one jumper that looked really good. This guy is not the athlete that Trevor is and it takes longer for him to come back from serious injury. I don’t have a problem with him getting minutes where he can. When Kwame gets back Chris becomes a backup PF anyway and I think he could be good with Kwame on the 2nd team.

  58. The Guy Formerly Known As Lamar Odom December 17, 2007 at 10:57 am

    any thoughts on The Machine?

  59. craig-Kwame and Mihm was a disaster when they were healthy in ’05, it won’t work now.

  60. The guy formerly known as Lamar Odom December 17, 2007 at 1:27 pm

    i say ship them out!

  61. Everyone at the Clip blogs is saying Kaman had a bad night, and one guy even said Kaman was superior to Bynum yesterday. Lol, clipper fans. Give some credit where it’s due.