Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Clippers, in 7 seconds

No game is won or lost in the last few seconds. I understand that. But last night, I saw one of the more frustrating late game decisions I can remember, and wanted to share. See, last night I got home from seeing the movie Gomorra (worth watching!), and turned on the tube to find the Clippers ahead of the Cavs with just a few minutes left to play. Thinking I'd see a possible upset or at least some Baron/Lebron heroics, I settled in.

The Cavs, obviously, were in the process of a comeback. Almost immediately after I tuned into the game the Cavs had tied it up. There were some big shots by Mo Williams and Boobie Gibson, as well as Al Thornton. But then, with 7 seconds left, the Clippers get the ball and are down by 2. I'll let Kevin Arnovitz of Clipperblog explain what happened next:

[4th, 0:06.6] This game ends for the Clippers the way it begins — with a Zach Randolph airball from 27 feet. What do the Clippers want, down two points with a hair over six seconds remaining? According to Mike Dunleavy, “We ran a side out-of-bounds play to try to get the ball into Baron.” That appears to be the intent: Baron starts along the baseline, with Randolph, Novak, and Thornton in a sort of line set across the stripe. Al, who’s farthest from the inbounder [Gordon], runs to the front side around Randolph/Varejao and Novak/Pavlovic. Meanwhile, Baron sprints up from down low, trying to shake loose of LeBron around the Randolph/Noak stack. Baron tries to split them, but the whole ordeal is clumsy — LeBron actually beats Baron around the screens, making any attempted inbounds pass to Baron impossible. Eric is stuck. He could go to Thornton on the near side wing, but Williams — who’s guarding him — has cut off that angle. Finally, Randolph steps toward the sideline to receive the ball from Gordon. When he does, Eric steps onto the court and asks for it back, only Randolph never looks at him. Never looks at anyone. With the court spread, there’s an nanosecond when you believe Zach might just want to take Varejao off the dribble, but that notion dissolves pretty quickly. Instead, Randolph takes a couple of dribbles, then elevates to launch the shot with exactly 5.0 seconds left. His teammates are perplexed. Al Thornton drops his arms, then after the whistle is blown, looks back as if to confirm he saw what he thinks he saw, then turns around in disgust. Baron looks angry and Eric bemused. 1.6 seconds remain. When Cleveland inbounds the ball, Mo Williams is fouled with 0.00.6, and sinks both FTs, which ices the game.

The Clippers are a caricature of themselves.

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