Don't look now...

But the Clippers just beat Portland and Houston and the same Orlando Magic team that we beat with half a game of Howard beat the Jazz without Howard. In Utah!

The Magic used a 34 to 12 third quarter to slap this Blog in the face for naming temerity. Yes it's true that the Jazz are still without Boozer but you would think that in a Boozer for Howard piece exchange (like swapping queens but don't tell Superman I called him a queen. PLEASE) that the Jazz would come out ahead especially in the snowy white confines of Energy Solutions arena. 

But the Magic continued to bomb away from outside with Hedo, Nelson, Cook and Lewis leading the 51% shooting from behind the arc. Meanwhile super star backup Center Gortat scored 4 points after torching the Suns for 8 the night before (it is amazing how a guy can look great against crappy defense).


And then there's our friends in LA. Yes, we do have friends in LA and when they beat the Rockets and Blazers they are REALLY good friends. In both games Zebo was large and Kaman was inactive. Anyone else think that Kaman's days in LA are numbered?

There is pure joy in Clippers Nation and rightly so:

A win streak.  It's a win streak.

Entering the week, the Clippers had the second worst record in the NBA.  But looking decidedly unlike a last place team, they have won back to back games for the first time this season, and did so against a pair of 15 game winners who were until very recently leading their respective divisions.  Were it not for a horrific drought at the beginning of the fourth quarter Monday against Orlando, it would have been three big time pelts in a week for the Clippers.

This is, simply put, a different team since Zach Randolph arrived in town.  They were 2-12 before he joined the team.  They lost their first game with him by one point, and are 4-4 since, and they've been in almost every game.  They are still a minus 5 in point differential on the season, but they lost almost all their early games by wide margins.  In the nine games since Z-Bo joined the team, they are actually a plus 2.

Meanwhile the homertastic Dream Shake blog goes Phoenix Fan and blames the refs

I just thought the game got too physical at times and thought more fouls should have been called.  It seemed like the refs also forced other calls at times and missed many of the obvious fouls.

To be fair, they blamed everyone else too. That's what fans of good teams do when they get beat by the Clippers.

Meanwhile Dave from Blazers Edge seemed to have enough of a store of goodwill to shake off the loss and use it as a teachable moment (although Dave is about as even keeled as they come so I wouldn't expect anything else) :

--If you're going to make it as a contender in the playoffs someday it's good to learn this lesson now:  one play can make all the difference and that play is often the small and routine one.  Of course you can point to Blake's free throws.  He'll be kicking himself all night for missing repeatedly at the end of regulation.  That's part of it.  But for the second straight tight game down the stretch we had to burn an extra timeout because we couldn't inbound the ball.  It didn't bite us this time, but that's exactly the kind of thing that you can regret for an entire off-season when it goes wrong at a criticial juncture.  You must be professional.  You must be detail-oriented.  You must play every possession like it's important.


And all this leads back to where this post started. Don't look now but the Suns are right there with the eight other western conference teams battling for the Lakers scraps.

This means that we can forget about the 4 game losing streak and Miami and the Nets and look forward from this point on. The season is about 1/4 over but from a win / loss stand point we are right back at the beginning - tied with eight other team fighting for seven playoff spots.

At the end of the season you can't look back and agonize over a game here or there when all the other teams have similar records. We've got a revamped roster and a fair spot in the standings. We could easily be 5 games back and looking up hill.

We are right there poised for whatever this team does next.