The CW (Clipper Weekly), 11th Edition
Current Record: 24-23, 3rd Pacific, T-7th West
Last Week: The Clippers showed further signs of life, with a solid home performance over the Bulls, one of the stronger East teams, and a good win against the pathetic Celtics in Boston for their seventh victory in eight tries. However, Toronto torched the Clips defense for a season-worst 122 points, showing that the team still hasn’t quite learned how to bring a consistent effort every game. Elton Brand appears to be back in top form, averaging over 24 points and 13 rebounds last week. The Raptors game was the first time in ten games that EB didn’t lead the team in scoring; not surprisingly, the Clippers’ team success has been highly correlated to Brand’s excellence. Tim Thomas was also very active offensively, averaging 18 and 7 and shooting 8-18 from downtown. On the other hand, Chris Kaman scored a total of eight points and sixteen rebounds in 76 minutes, trying to single-handedly undermine the team’s success (maybe not, but it sure looks like it on TV).
Quick Take: Offensively, the Clippers are operating more proficiently, moving the ball and identifying open shooters or mismatches. Over the last ten games, the team is averaging 25.8 assists per game, far higher than the 21.1 that they are averaging over the course of the whole season. The Clipper guards have a tendency to overdribble which causes the offense to stagnate, but lately have been getting the ball into the post earlier in the shot clock, opening up the court for more opportunities. It’s a familiar tune, but Kaman and Shaun Livingston continue to play spotty. At least Livingston made some clutch plays down the stretch against Chicago on both sides of the ball to clinch the win; Kaman isn’t even getting minutes during crunch time now because of his ineptitude.
Tuesday: at New York (PRIME, 4:30 pm) – coach Isiah Thomas promised to turn around the team that he built when he took over at the start of the season. He’s delivered, sort of. The Knicks have nearly equaled their win total from last season (23-59), but at 21-28, Thomas hasn’t exactly gotten a lot out of the team’s $139 million payroll that he created. The team actually has some decent young talent, with leading scorer Eddy Curry at center and top rebounder David Lee at forward. Of course, the Knicks’ highest paid player Allan Houston hasn’t actually played in two seasons, and yet the club is still paying him almost $21 million this year. Yet despite all of those boos you will be hearing from a half-empty MSG, Isiah has somehow managed to keep both of his jobs.