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Desperately in Need of a Pick Up

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So a guy goes to a bar with a bunch of his buddies. Let’s call him Elton. He hasn’t historically had a lot of success with the ladies, but the last time he visited this bar, things worked out really well for him.

He and his buddies have been making the rounds, working the room and evaluating the talent. Some of his buddies, like Tim, Steve, and Tracy, are getting play almost immediately. Meanwhile, Elton was a little off his game at the beginning, but he’s recovered nicely. In particular, one very attractive woman has really been digging him, laughing at his jokes and giving him the look.

There’s another guy, Baron, who’s been eyeing the same girl that Elton is feeling. But she’s not feeling Baron like she feels Elton. All Elton needs to do to close the deal is buy her one more drink and take her out on to the dance floor.

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As Elton waits for the bartender to order another round, he starts talking up the fact that he lives at home with his mom. The woman is thrown off by this and starts turning her attention back to Baron, who’s ready to move in and capitalize on Elton’s blunder. Elton realizes his mistake, but now sees his only chance to win the woman back is for one of his boys, Dirk, who’s already set for the night, to go over and cock-block Baron.

Elton Brand and the Clippers were in prime position to make a return trip to the playoffs. After their huge comeback win against the Lakers last Thursday and easy win over the Blazers on Friday, the Clippers had a simple task to accomplish their season-long goal. Just win three straight games against unmotivated opponents: a last-place Sacramento team who had lost seven out of nine; a Phoenix team likely to be resting its starters with the second seed locked up; and a NO/OKC team that had just been eliminated from contention. Buy the drink and ask the girl for a dance.

One problem. The Clips somehow managed to bungle this slam-dunk opportunity by losing to the lowly Kings yesterday, on their home court no less. By doing so, the Clippers allowed Baron Davis and the Warriors to pass them in the standings for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Now, with only two games left in the season, the Clips can only make it to the playoffs if Golden St. loses one of its last two games and the Clippers win out.

The worst part? The Clippers gave it up in spectacularly bad fashion. Sacramento did everything in its power to give the Clippers the game, purposely putting a crappy team out on the court playing its young players for most of the second half. But in spite of the Kings' best efforts to lose and improve their position in the draft lottery, the Clips worked even harder to choke it away.

The Clips fell behind by as many as 24 against a lineup prominently featuring D-league all-stars like John Salmons, Quincy Douby, Justin Williams, and Francisco Garcia before fighting back in the fourth quarter to make it respectable. LA made countless defensive lapses resulting in wide-open threes (Sac had ten 3s) and careless turnovers directly leading to Kings' buckets (25 points off of 17 TOs). Just an all-out embarrassment considering the stakes.

So now the Clippers will be stuck scoreboard watching on Tuesday and Wednesday night. The Warriors' remaining games are with league-leading Dallas and at bottom-feeder Portland. Realistically, with Golden St. playing such inspired ball (seven wins in its last eight games), only the Mavs have a chance to pull off a win, so Clipper Nation has to cheer hard for Dirk Nowitzki and company. The problem is that the Mavs clinched homecourt advantage a long time ago and don't need to go all out. The one positive is that Dallas coach Avery Johnson is trying to keep his team sharp and may elect to play his starters close to normal minutes.

Of course, if the Clippers have another repeat of yesterday, it won't matter what the Warriors do the rest of the way. The Clips will be the ones leaving the bar alone at the end of the night.

AP photo by Chris Pizzello