So I made the trip all the way out to NYC to see the Clippers take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. People often go see their team play road games but I felt like I was alone on this one as there were less than a handful of Clipper fans in attendance at this game. It would have been nice to convert one fan to Clipper Nation, Jeff of Project Spurs in particular since he attended the game with me but that's wishful thinking.
We arrived at the game early in order to see the shootaround. The security at Madison Square Garden isn't as tight as a place like Staples Center and they basically allow you to walk around wherever you choose.
The game started out in favor of Clipper Nation and they jumped out to an early lead, thanks to easy transition baskets (as usual) and some impressive post moves by Chris Kaman. It also helped that the Knicks were failing to hit their outside shots. Within the first few minutes of the game the scoreboard read:
The early lead was promising and the Clippers continued to push the lead and everything they did seemed to work. It also helped that they were getting nearly every call to go their way, something that they are not accustomed to. At one point before calling a timeout to stop the run, the boos from the Knicks fans resounded through the Garden.
They were able to get a boost from Jonathan Bender who scored 5 quick points and received a nice ovation from the fans.
The Clippers closed the first half on a strong note and held a 58-42 lead going in to halftime. However, the 3rd quarter wasn't so pretty. The Knicks were able to close in on the Clippers with some good execution from the combination of Chris Duhon and David Lee who connected on a number of plays. Danilo Gallinari was also able to get the basket with ease and his shots began to fall. All of which spelled bad news for the Clippers who were outscored 30 to 14 in the quarter.
One thing to note was the substitutions in the 4th quarter. Baron Davis had played the entire 3rd quarter which meant that Dunleavy would be playing Sebastian Telfair for extended minutes in a crucial stretch of the 4th quarter.
Unfortunately, the Clippers' 4th quarter was much uglier than the 3rd. Coach Dunleavy insisted on getting the ball to Kaman in the post despite seeing immediate double teams. If he was able to successfully pass the ball out, they would often repost where he would see yet another double team. The Clippers would ultimately have only 4-5 seconds left on the shot clock to create some offense which lead to several instances where Rasual Butler, a non one on one player to go one on one.
The game was coming down to the wire and with less than 40 seconds left in the game, Baron Davis hit a 3-pointer to regain the lead. On the proceeding plays, David Lee was able to tip the ball in and the Clippers turned the ball over on an offensive foul call on Al Thornton. It set up for one final shot for the Clippers who had 13.7 seconds to "steal" a win:
The Clippers had to foul immediately and were down by 4 points with less than a second left. The game was essentially over at that point. They were not able to maintain their large lead and this is the second time this season that it has happened. Teams are figuring out how to defend Kaman. The Clippers should try and sit Kaman for the 4th quarter and that will disrupt the defensive scheme for the opposing team. If teams make their adjustments, feeding the post won't continue to work for the Clippers for an entire 48 minutes. It really is another frustrating loss and the Clippers' coach/GM continues to stay out of the hot seat. A .500 record only appears to be within reach but getting there appears to be a nearly impossible task.
We're always up late. How about buying us a coffee? Or an energy drink!?