How good can the Clippers be?
"We can be really good," point guard Baron Davis said.
Good enough to reach the playoffs this season?
Davis paused to gather his thoughts.
When informed that Charles Barkley recently told a reporter that the Clippers are good enough to make the playoffs, Davis smiled. Then he gave an emphatic answer.
"We can be in the playoffs easily," Davis said, his mood suddenly upbeat.
Now you have to keep in mind that the Clippers haven't had No. 1 draft pick Blake Griffin all season because of a broken left kneecap and he's not expected back until January. Don't forget that Clippers second-year guard Eric Gordon sat out eight games because of a sore left groin and one game because of a sore left hamstring.
Yet, these are the Clippers, the Clippers who haven't been in the playoffs since 2006, the same Clippers who have been in the playoffs only four times since the team moved to Los Angeles for the start of the 1984-85 season.
Not to mention that the Clippers play in the Western Conference. And the Clippers are only 9-12 and next to last in the Pacific Division.
But in reality, the Clippers do have talent. They have some nice pieces.
"We can be real good," Davis repeated three times, for emphasis.
OK, you can be real good if what happens?
"We've all got to figure it out," Davis said. "It's like cooking, man. You have got to have the right ingredients and it's got to mesh in order for it to taste good. You can't cook the beef too much. You've got to throw some carrots in the pot. Somebody -- and I'm trying to be that person -- has got to take what we all have and give us the confidence. . . . "
Camby dominates boards
It's amazing to watch Clippers forward Marcus Camby go after every rebound in sight. He's 6 feet 11 and has long arms and can jump. But it's more than that with Camby.
"He's got great energy that way," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "He does a great job of reading flights of balls and being able to position himself to get to a point where he can get his hands on the ball, or at least tap balls back out to where he keeps them alive for us."
Camby doesn't give up on the ball, and is always looking, searching. He's averaging 11 rebounds per game, fifth best in the NBA. He's averaging 8.3 defensive rebounds (fourth best) and 2.7 offensive rebounds (13th).
He has had a season-high 21 rebounds and has had double-figure rebounds in six of his last seven games, and in 12 of the 21 games he has played in this season.
The 14-year veteran, who has averaged 10.6 rebounds in his career, is in the last season of a deal that pays him $9.1 million.
Portland's MASH unit
What in the world is going on in Portland?
Is there something in the water up there that makes so many players get injured? The Trail Blazers have had seven people go down because of injuries. Look at this list:
Center Greg Oden is lost for the season because of a broken left knee.
Guard Rudy Fernandez is out four to six weeks after back surgery.
Forward Travis Outlaw is out until March because of a broken left foot.
Forward Nicolas Batum is out until February after right shoulder surgery.
Rookie guard Patrick Mills is out because of a broken right foot.
Forward Jeff Pendergraph is down because of hip surgery.
And even Coach Nate McMillan is out this week because of surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles' tendon.
Clippers reserve guard Kareem Rush had surgery Wednesday for a torn ligament in his right knee, though no timetable was set for his return, the team said.