Baron Davis is one of the most frustrating NBA players in the game today. He has all the talent in the world -- strength, athleticism, great court vision, soft touch -- but for whatever reason hasn't been able to be a consistent performer over his career.
On any night, though, he can put all those skills on display, and when he does he can be very special. Unfortunately for the Boston Celtics, he decided to put those skills together against Boston, doing it all for the Clippers in their 92-90 win.
With one second left in the game, after two Rajon Rondo misses from the free throw line left the game tied at 90, Davis came up to the top of the key and drilled a jumper with Rondo draped all over him.
Poor Rondo; he went from being the Celtics best player for 47 minutes and 59 seconds to the goat by the end of the game. First the missed free throws, then Davis' jumper in his mug. (Even though you couldn't play much better defense than Rondo played, short of completely denying him the pass.)
For my thoughts while the game was going on, read on. It's my running diary...
- It took Tony Allen a little less than two minutes to get his first turnover. I don't want to be too harsh on Tony, he's played well lately, but the only reason he got that turnover was that he decided to look off Rondo, who was looking for an outlet pass. Tony, just a bit of advice: Don't. Look. Off. Rondo.
- Baron Davis is far too strong for Rondo. Three minutes into the game, and Davis has been super aggressive going to the hoop. When he plays like this, it's hard to realize why he's not one of the NBA's elite point guards... until you remember he has hardly ever been in shape, continually decides to settle for bad jumpers, and gets injured more often than Evil Knievel.
- Eric Gordon just blew by Ray Allen for an easy two-handed flush. I hate to say it when he's playing the Celtics, but I really like the way he plays.
- Celtics look a step slow to begin the game. It could be a letdown from winning such an emotional Orlando game, it could be having to travel from Orlando to L.A., or it could be that they saw they were playing a team starting DeAndre Jordan. Whatever it is, they don't have the same sense of urgency they had against Orlando.
- Early on, Rondo's the only one with any energy. Thankfully for the Celtics, he's dominating the game, with 6 points and 2 assists in the first seven minutes. Celtics up 13-12.
- Since I got on TA for his dumb play earlier, I've got to give him credit now: He just stole an entry pass, then ran his lane down the left wing. What happened? Rondo hit him with a bounce pass and Allen ended up on the free throw line shooting two free throws. Moral of the story? Let Rondo make the decisions. (As I'm writing this, Allen just broke up an alley-oop with a great defensive play. He's done some really good things these last few weeks.)
- TA is taking over the running diary. This time, a nice cut from the wing to the bucket, where Rondo hit him for an easy lay-in. One of the big changes Allen has made to help his game is working off the ball. When he is just a finisher, he can be a weapon. When he tries to initiate plays and over-dribbles, that's when he makes bad mistakes. (By the way, I can't believe what I just wrote. Tony Allen "can be a weapon." Before the season, I would have bet my life I would never say that.)
- Brian Skinner's little goatee thing is disgusting. I don't want to be too graphic, but he looks like he has Brian Scalabrine's pubic hairs pasted to his chin.
- A minute into the second quarter, Ray Allen gets subbed in for Rondo and the Celtics now have a lineup of Ray, Scal, Eddie House, Big Baby, and Rasheed. Not exactly their best unit.
- Remember when I said it wasn't their best unit? I wasn't lying. But it doesn't really matter, because 'Sheed is getting defended by Brian Skinner and Brian Skinner's pubic goatee... And he is torching them both. On one possession, he put the ball right over Skinner's head, as if contemplating about what move to make, then just decided, "Hey, I can just shoot it right over him. I don't even have to make any moves. It's that easy." And so he shot it. And it went in.
- Even without Rondo on the floor, Eddie House is playing almost entirely off the ball; Ray and Tony Allen are doing most of the ball-handling.
- DeAndre Jordan is an athletic freak. He had a huge alley-oop earlier, and a nice block on a Rondo drive in this quarter. He's a physical specimen but, still, he's not very good. Why not? He's less skilled offensively than my grandmother.
- KG just went up to catch an alley-oop, completely botched the dunk, then came down limping. I get the feeling his injury is worse than the Celtics are letting on and, if it is, he should be sitting out some more games. Plus, have you seen that knee brace of his? He's out there looking like a young Forrest Gump.
- The starters came back into the game with the score 38-34, Celtics. Now, it's 42-38 Clippers. Bring back Scal!
- You can say what you want about Tommy Heinsohn being a complete and total homer; it's all true. But I miss him during road games. Especially when the Celtics get called for a blatantly obvious foul and I just want to hear Tommy's inevitable, "What a bogus call!" Nobody complains about good calls quite like Tommy does. Actually, I'm forgetting about somebody who does... Did you see Kobe Bryant the other day?
- I can't believe some of the entry passes L.A. has thrown into their big men. They've already thrown away three our four. I've seen second-grade teams who can throw better passes into the post.
- Baron Davis just settled for "the Baron Davis" to end the second quarter. What exactly is "The Baron Davis"? A stepback, fadeaway three-pointer, of course. Surprisingly, it's only his first "Baron Davis" of the night. (Side note: "The Baron Davis" also has an alternate name... "The Vince Carter".
- The half ends with the Celtics ahead, 48-46. Rondo leads the Celtics with 10 points and 4 assists. Garnett a paltry 2-7 from the field. The Clippers shot 50%, but 10 turnovers hurt their cause.
- The Celtics have picked it up to begin the second half. Rondo's getting out in transition, Tony Allen's making nice plays, and Kevin Garnett is affecting things on both ends of the floor. A quick 12-4 run to start the half has put the Celtics up 60-50.
- If Tony Allen keeps playing like he is, the C's bench will be dangerous when Marquis Daniels returns. Both Allen and Daniels are versatile defenders who can really apply pressure on the other team.
- Mike Gorman on Al Thornton: "Thornton's been out there for 25 minutes, and we haven't called his name much." Couldn't have said it better myself, Mike. Still, despite having done literally nothing productive tonight, he leads the Clippers in minutes. Huh?
- What's more attractive... Chris Kaman or Brian Skinner's goatee? I vote Kaman, by a hair.
- Baron Davis comes off a screen and launches his second "Baron Davis" of the night. In related news, it missed.
- The C's are really playing great defense in this third quarter. Every shot is contested, and Garnett and Perk are really doing a great job of owning the paint and not allowing easy shots. (Note: As I was writing this, Eric Gordon sliced to the hoop for a wide open lay-up. The lesson, as always: Don't jinx your team.)
- Mike Gorman: "I haven't figured out yet what the Clippers are trying to do." A perfect quote to describe the Mike Dunleavy effect.
- I'll say this about DeAndre Jordan: He's good at catching alley-oops. To me, it's his one discernible skill.
- I really like Rasual Butler. He's not great by any stretch of the imagination, but he seems to be a pro's pro. He sprints both ways in transition, gives it all he's got on defense, and can really shoot the basketball. He's one of the few Clippers who actually seems to give a damn.
- A missed Rasheed dunk turns into a Chris Kaman and-one at the other end... Kaman seems to be really happy, after being named more attractive than
Scal's pubesBrian Skinner's goatee.
- 73-69 Celtics to end the third. A good start to the quarter was ruined by a lackadaisical last few minutes.
- Big Baby has played a nice game tonight. He's gotten a few offensive rebounds, taken a few charges, and scored a few buckets. Plus, unlike Shelden Williams, he doesn't have a wife with more skills.
- When I watch the Clips play, I wonder why Craig Smith doesn't get more playing time. He can score, he's active on the glass, and he's not Brian Skinner. What more could the Clips want? (Answer: Maybe a power forward taller than 6'7"?)
- Another note about Smith: Watching him go against Big Baby is like watching two 6'7" bowling balls play basketball.
- I was just about to ask why Eddie House was still in the game with a little over five minutes to go, then Eddie hit an and-one jumper from the corner. I guess that's why. Still, no matter how hot Eddie's been this fourth quarter, Rondo should not be on the bench to finish the game. He just shouldn't be.
- With four minutes to go, Doc finally puts Rondo back into the game. Doc, he's been your best player all night long. He should have been in a long time ago.
- I don't have any stats to back this up, but Perk seems like he's been far more active on the offensive glass lately. He just had a huge board after a Ray Allen miss, keeping alive a possession that ended with a made Rondo jumper.
- Eric Gordon takes three very long steps, then gets called for a travel, and somehow Donny Marshall takes Gordon's side and said he didn't walk. He's like Bizarro Tommy Heinsohn right now.
- TA with a huge steal and coast-to-coast lay-in to give the C's a four-point lead. I keep waiting for his inevitable self-destruction at the worst possible time, but he hasn't had one in awhile. (Crossing my fingers that I didn't just jinx the first reliable stretch of play Allen's had in a long, long time.)
- .346 -- No, I didn't just randomly write down Albert Pujols' batting average. .346 is actually DeAndre Jordan's free throw percentage on the season. To look on the bright side, though, if he were three times as good from the line he'd be a little better than Ray Allen.
- Doc Rivers is subbing offense-defense with 'Sheed and Perk. I like that, but I don't like 'Sheed deciding to shoot a three on his first possession, despite being oh fer five on his first five trifectas.
- Rondo drives by Baron Davis with time running down, drawing the foul and getting himself to the line. Mark Price, please tell me you helped Rajon enough to let him make at least one of two.
- They show this stat before Rondo takes his first free throw: 54% from the line. He then clanks the first one. So much for the reverse jinx.
- And Rondo misses them both. Damn you, Mark Price, damn you.
- Baron Davis drills a fadeaway with no time left on the clock. Wow, what a stomach-punch.
- That last play ended up well for the Clips, but did anyone else notice these two things about it?... 1) Dunleavy had Rasual Butler, arguably the Clips best shooter, pass the ball in, and 2) Steve Novak, ice-cold after sitting for the first 47 minutes and 59 seconds, was inserted into the game. If you want a shooter, doesn't it make more sense to have somebody else pass the ball in and have Butler -- not ice-cold Novak -- on the court?
- For the Celtics, this was an uneven effort. They didn't execute well, either offensively or defensively, and clearly didn't show the same focus and determination they showed in beating the Magic the other night. Really, they didn't deserve to win this game.