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Saturday, May 12th, 2012 at 8:27 am  |  27 responses

Post Up: Win or Go Home

Game 7 is set for Sunday.

by Ben Collins

Grizzlies 90, Clippers 88

LA had an eight point lead with eight minutes left and then the Clippers showed up.

No, they didn’t show up, like arrived or took over. The Clippers we all know and love from the last two decades showed up and spit relapse juice into the punch bowl.

They lost 90-88 to Memphis. The Clippers had three chances to advance in this series with a win and now they’re down to one.

It wasn’t a routinic, “Oh, we just couldn’t stop this run” sort of thing. It was a series of stupid errors, turnovers and careless plays, and all of it was topped off by straight up giving up at the end.

Oh, and the coaching sucked, too.

Again, the Clippers were up eight with eight to play. Then Space Jam extra Hamed Haddadi snuck an offensive rebound putback on a missed free throw and all hell broke loose.

The Clippers had been propped up by a bench that was overachieving at all the right times. Eric Bledsoe had 14 and 6 with a lot of head-dipping, slashing, and general gutty play. Ditto Kenyon Martin, who played with an interminable gall in the first three quarters. He was a five-for-six on almost all aggressive plays and layups.

Then that all very quietly decided to stop after the Haddadi rebound. Nick Young was still in this game, for some reason. Del Negro abandoned throwing the stronger Martin on Rudy Gay—really the only tactic that’s worked on Gay late in games—and stuck with Young, who was effectively and immediately declawed.

Gay scored the next five points of the game. No changes were made.

It’s stupid to think that we shouldn’t have seen this coming, frankly. These are the Clippers. They are the Clippers for a reason, and the Lakers are the Lakers for a reason. I’m a horrendous stat nerd just like the rest of you, but the Lakers don’t lose because they’re not supposed to.

Sometimes baggage is real. When that, “Aw, jeez, not this s–t again” hush comes over the crowd, you can’t tell me otherwise.

Everyone rightfully picked against the Mavericks last year in every round of the playoffs because they had done this—no joke—exactly ten times before. They figured it out on the 11th.

This is the Clippers’ first.

Of course Randy Foye would step out of bounds when no one was ready for a rebound on a missed free throw. Of course the team would stop paying attention and forget to foul, up two after a missed three with 4 seconds left.

These are the Clippers. Don’t forget that.

When old habits don’t die hard, they don’t die at all.

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  • jakethesnake

    What a terrible, terrible write up.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Peter Walsh

    I beg to differ.

  • Hubert

    Del Negro sucked/continued to suck big time.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Dagger

    Yeah this is a ridiculous writeup. “It’s stupid to think that we shouldn’t have seen this coming, frankly. These are the Clippers. They are the Clippers for a reason, and the Lakers are the Lakers for a reason. I’m a horrendous stat nerd just like the rest of you, but the Lakers don’t lose because they’re not supposed to.” — Those are three useless sentences for any basketball fan who thinks there might just be more to the game than simplistic superstition. Please explain to me how Paul, Blake, Kenyon Martin and the rest of the Clippers have picked up “bad habits” that apparently hung over the Clippers franchise for decades? This series was always going to go the distance. If anything it’s impressive that the paper-thin Clippers came close to grinding out a win against a really talented Memphis team while Blake and Paul were both limited by injury.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Wayno

    I’m so mad that everything you said isn’t serious, blah blah blah…shut up haters, if you don’t like it go to ESPN.com

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    GREAT WRITE UP! CHOKE CITY! LMAO

  • spurs4life

    Can the Griz please end this Sunday so my Spurs can have there redemption.

  • Salty

    Terrible write up? You’re talking about a B.Collins write up, get your mind right.

  • IAMORANGE4EVER

    Gotta get going, but I want it to be known I’m calling for the Lakers to beat the Nuggets in game 7. I hope George Karl in the post-game presser will be given the opportunity to opine about his 33-52 (38.8%) record in the playoffs during his time as head coach in Milwaukee and Denver, during which he’s only been out the first round TWICE in those 13 seasons. How he couldn’t get the most out of Ray Allen and Carmelo Anthony, because of his DIVA personality.

  • Fat Lever

    I wonder what a real coach could do with cp3 and Blake. Del Negro is a terrible coach. The fact that the clips “offense” looks as lost as it does when Tony Allen denies cp3 the ball, goes directly to how bad of a coach vdn is.

  • feez_22

    Why VDN continued to go with foye in the game just irks me. If he isn’t fired by the end of the season, clippers mediocrity will continue & CP should not go back. They need a new coach. its that simple.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    Has anyone else noticed that CP ALWAYS GOES RIGHT. I can’t recall seeing him go left at all this series. All his baskets are from the middle to the right. I would sit on that right hand and make him finish left.

  • Top$helf

    That ref Marc Davis is a clown that tech he gave Evans was a joke Rondo shoulda slapped the sh!t outta him along with the chest bump

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    They need to f*cking start Nick Young at shooting guard and ride him for 35+ minutes next game. I know Randy Foye looks like he’s related to Chauncey Billups, but they aren’t the same player.

  • arthur

    A great post. What’s funny is that for once the Lakers and Clippers find themselves in the exact same situation.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Think the L would be a little irked if BOTH Los Angeles teams lost in the first round?

  • INFINITELY

    All of Collins write-ups are kinda weak, no doubt. I just skim through them.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    I’m actually glad that people disagree with this article. It means that everybody’s digging deep, watching the game in full, trying to find an underlying cause in numbers and breakdowns in specific sets. All of this makes me want to pay my taxes on time and hug people I don’t know in the street.

    But this team isn’t being taken seriously even by its own fans. When they buckle, the arena feels like they should pay memoriam to the Grizzlies’ 8-0 run by remembering how shitty the last 20 years were with a deep, dark silence. That does not exist at Lakers games or Celtics games or Spurs games or, hell, even Knicks games.

    They really need an overriding authority to get through those moments. Del Negro isn’t that. He’s still getting Regular Season Tricky out there in the 4th quarter. In Game 5, he rested CP for a minute and a half with 5 minutes left in the game. (He hadn’t yet tweaked his groin.) Paul has one of those run-stopping plays—run a pick and roll, get the switch, rise up from the elbow extended about 17 feet out on a stepback—that works 80 percent of the time, but VDN doesn’t run it until the last two minutes.

    These aren’t championship decisions. These aren’t even 2nd round decisions.

    The reason I say they don’t have an “overriding authority” and not “good coaching” is because Kobe is an overriding authority. Dirk is an overriding authority. Ditto LeBron and Wade and Rose and Duncan. They sense when the game is getting out of hand and say, “Enough of this shit. It’s not getting worse than this.” It might take them two or three possessions, but it works.

    I think Chauncey would’ve helped, honestly, but his ACL spoke first.

    They got a little lucky when Memphis allowed Game 1 to devolve into a regular season game at the end. Well, really, it was a pick-up game in those last eight minutes. There’s no better pick-up game team than these Clippers. Paul’s gonna run, Blake’s gonna get free, momentum-shifting oops in transition, Young and Foye and Mo are gonna get room and time for threes in the corner when the pace gets out of hand. But that’s going to happen in a given playoff series for about eight minutes total. They used the hell out of those eight minutes.

    There’s no sense of calm when the wheels fall off. And it’s probably because they look under the basket and it says “LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS” in all-caps and italics.

    Look, 55 percent of my brain wants the Clippers to win this series, too. I live in LA. More Playoff games are good stories for the great-grandchildren, of which I currently have several spread across (mostly) the contiguous United States. I think Chris Paul is the best player in the NBA right now when he’s 100 percent, which is patently indefensible to my expatriated Miami and Oklahoma friends. He looks ready and prepared and put-together for this big moment.

    Problem is, no one else is. Everybody else on this team looks like they showed up to the prom and forgot to put their pants on.

  • KG

    I wish Lang would write articles instead of Ben.

  • Kareem

    Ben, good job on the write up.

  • Arthur

    I am struggling to understand all this vitriol being directed towards Ben.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    That was a lot of text without any line breaks.

  • Anthony

    good write-up and great comment. And as a Spurs fan i dont know which team id rather play, i know we’re gonna smash the Clippers but revenge against the Grizz cant be overlooked.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Ben is gifted with an incredible knack for sharpness. Unfortunately, most readers don’t appreciate opinion in recaps. Well, let me rephrase. Bias is ok, judgment is not. Frankly, I enjoy it as it serves as the jumping off point for comment discussions, but for those just looking for a game summary, it may come off as overly bold or opinionated. His writing is very good, just a bit more caustic than what we are used to seeing. He’s not here to convince us of anything though- that’s for nbk, LakeShow, AllenP, Jukai, T-Ray, Teddy-the-Bear, Nick tha Quick, Diesel, Darksaber, and all of the other regular commenters- he is here to eloquently and slickly provide us with his opinion. Is that fair to say Ben? That’s what I get from your writing.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    In short, I really enjoy ALL of your write-ups. Don’t acquiesce.

  • http://slamonline.com Datkid

    This write up was fine honestly…jeez guys.

  • Zabbah

    You’d think Ben insulted all your mothers in that write up, not a recap of a ballgame. I don’t agree with his Clippers analysis, for the record, and probably will do the same in the future, but he’s still a good sports writer.

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