The CW (Clipper Weekly), All-Star Edition
Current Record: 25-28, 3rd Pacific, T-9th West
While the rest of the league was focused on the festivities in Sin City, the Clippers got a much needed four days off to regroup. The Clips were one of only three teams that had exactly zero participants in the entire weekend’s festivities (and justifiably so) which means they will not be suffering from any lingering effects of the around-the-clock
drunken parties and hookups with tainted groupies and assorted golddiggers promotion of the league that occurs over All-Star weekend.
In terms of actual games, Elton Brand missed both of them with back spasms, and not surprisingly the Clippers lost both of them: a butt-whupping at Detroit to finish the road trip, and a Valentine’s stinker at home against Atlanta. As a result, LA fell temporarily back out of the playoff picture. Cuttino Mobley was the only Clipper who played well, scoring a season-high 31 points against Atlanta, but then injured his groin in the fourth quarter when the Hawks made their big comeback. Yes, it’s business as usual in Clipper Nation.
With the All-Star game out of the way, it’s officially crunch time: 29 games to go. Currently, the Clips are one of five teams within two and a half games of the last two playoff spots – Denver is holding the number seven position at 26-25, with Minnesota in eighth at 25-27, the Clippers and New Orleans/Oklahoma City at 25-28, and Golden St. at 25-29. The Nuggets figure to play better once Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony actually get on the court at the same time. The Hornets are surging now that they’ve gotten Chris Paul and David West back from injury, with Peja Stojakovic possibly returning in March. In other words, it’s going to take a lot better than .500 ball the rest of the way to get in.
The Clips still have two games left each with the Warriors and the Hornets, as well as another game with the Nuggets, so they have the opportunity to help themselves out. However, they also have several games against the class of the NBA (Dallas, Phoenix (2), Utah, San Antonio (2), Houston (2)), which means they need to actually win games they aren’t expected to win, which hasn’t happened at all this year. Count it off, it will take 44 wins to make the playoffs, so the Clippers have to go 19-10. Thus, the nights off that the defense takes and the no-shows that Chris Kaman and Shaun Livingston have been having can no longer be tolerated if the club wants to play past April. Maybe someone can tell Tim Thomas the team makes extra money if they make the playoffs, he might actually try for once if he knows he can get a bonus paycheck.