It's not as if the Pacers are the go-to club when it comes to taking care of the ball or picking out great shots or running a smart show on either end, but compared to this year's model of the L.A. Clippers? This team is Hickory flippin' High.
The Clippers don't lose in a way that forces you into wondering if these kids will ever get it. They are kids, mind you. DeAndre Jordan(notes) was the oldest starter on Thursday at age 22, and you felt that sort of knowledge, watching this game. But they do try, they do work, they just don't know any better. They have no idea. Here's hoping this team gets some wins under its belt before the NBA loses these players -- these talents -- to terrible habits, in the same way that we're seeing with the Knicks right now.
The Pacers aren't much better off, but they did cover the court well in transition (when a 19-year old former college shooting guard is running the break, it isn't the hardest endeavor, but let me give the Hoosier cats a bit of dap), they did run a good in and out game, and the return of Jeff Foster(notes) seemed to spark the troops up a bit.
Roy Hibbert(notes) turned the ball over six times, but he also managed 18 points and eight rebounds in just under 31 minutes, while Danny Granger(notes) got his 22, and the whole team (22 assists) was pushing it throughout.
The Clippers just have no clue how to play at this level. The effort isn't what I'd call pristine, but it isn't the problem, and they've no way of knowing how to make a difference. Each of this team's rookies -- and I mean that -- are worth drooling over. But we felt the same way about the University of Kentucky last year. Doesn't mean they could beat the Pacers.
There's absolutely nothing I can tell you with this sort of game. The Phoenix Suns were without Steve Nash(notes) (and, since last July, not sure if you've heard, also without Amar'e Stoudemire(notes)), and the Orlando Magic has talent to spare.
The Suns take bad shots, and the team is full of players who have absolutely no idea as to how to contribute defensively. Hakim Warrick(notes) makes Stoudemire look like Nate Thurmond, defensively, and Hedo Turkoglu(notes) is an absolute joke.
Meanwhile, the Magic are deep and talented and know how to defend. They spent the first three quarters of this game doubling up the Suns, while I was forced not to watch what was going on with my beloved Bears on another channel, and what was happening over at NBC. Thank goodness for the fact that the Bears' offense is nearly as bad as the Clippers', and thank goodness for Hulu.
This game, though? Go away.
George Karl hates his team.
I'm sure he loves them and appreciates the familiarity and likes the people on his team; but as much as Karl has shown a predilection toward forgiving bad shots or missed rotations, a team like this has to wear on George.
I understand that Portland showed impressive effort at times for a good stretch of the fourth quarter. But the Nuggets took bad shots, took terrible shots, and really should have beaten a Nuggets without Brandon Roy(notes) (even in Portland) by eight (gotta adjust for pace). Aaron Afflalo was fouled on a game-tying attempt nearly at the buzzer for Denver, but that chuck may have been a two-point attempt, and the Nuggets should have paid more attention to weak side rotations in the first half on Wes Matthews.
I appreciate what Portland did, allowing Matthews to run wild while Andre Miller(notes) ran the show, but this wasn't the most cerebral game from either side. LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) is working towards a turnaround season, still, and he finished with 24 and 10.