|2008/2009 NBA Regular Season|
|February 6th, 2009, 5:00 PM|
|FSN Prime Ticket, 710 AM
The Back Story:
The Big Picture:
The Clippers hit a new low in Orlando on Wednesday. Playing with a lineup upon which many of us had placed high hopes, they were demolished by the Magic in a game that Ralph described at one point as "borderline embarrassing" (by the way, Ralph's map was a little off - they had already crossed the border). The team's defense was so bad that I'm not comfortable use the phrase 'the team's defense'. Whatever it was they were doing when the Magic had possession of the ball - during that time when many teams play something known as defense - the Clippers were doing something else. I'm not sure what it was. It's all disconcerting in the extreme. If ever a team needed a win, it's this team. And they have an opportunity tonight, playing a Memphis team that's among the league's doormats. But they'll have to commit to playing defense, to rebounding, and to hustling. If they don't do those things, they will lose for certain.
The Clippers won only two games in the month of January, and that was one more than the Grizzlies. It cost Marc Iavaroni his job. But suddenly the Grizzlies are hot - they're undefeated in February! The team has some talent. Rookie of the Year candidate O.J. Mayo has scored 33 and 32 points in his last two games, and is leading all rookies in scoring at over 19 a game. Third year forward Rudy Gay is just under 19 a game, and is one of the most naturally gifted basketball players you will ever see. But as good as Mayo and Gay look on offense, you'll be interested to know that the Grizzlies rank 29th in the league in offensive efficiency (I don't need to tell you who is 30th). They also don't play very good defense, allowing the second highest field goal percentage in the league. So some talent is there, but the pieces are really fitting together yet. Of course, we know how that feels.
- Mayo and Gordon. For the third time in six games, the Clippers are seeing one of the top draft picks from last June's draft. And this time, the rookies are going to go head to head. Mayo and Gordon both have big time scoring games, and they've both shown the ability to be top notch defenders as well. Gordon just won rookie of the month, and honor that Mayo took home for November. From the looks of it, Mayo wants to win in February, as he's scored 30+ in two games so far. This matchup could be a lot of fun to watch.
- Z-bo in the starting lineup? MDsr has been limiting the minutes of all of his returning vets. On Wednesday in Orlando, he brought Zach Randolph off the bench. I'm not sure why he feels compelled to do that. Randolph needs to be in the starting lineup, so that maybe the Clippers can avoid falling behind by 10 or so in the first couple of minutes. As it happens, the Clippers are 6-6 with the starting lineup that I'm hoping we'll see tonight. I'm not suggesting that the result would have been any different with Zach in the lineup against Orlando - but at least that game didn't ruin the .500 record of this lineup.
- Kyle Lowry. Point guard Lowry sprained his ankle in Washington on Monday and probably won't play in this game. He had lost his starting job to second year player Mike Conley, but Lowry has had some big games against the Clippers in the past.
- Trivia Time - The Grizzlies have acquired former Clippers Marko Jaric, Quinton Ross, Darius Miles and Shaun Livingston within the last year (they immediately waived Livingston). How many other players can you name that have played for both franchises? There are three Clipper first rounders on the list.
- Speaking of former Clippers. Someone might want to mention to the Grizzlies that building your team around former Clippers is probably not the best way to go. As it happens, Marko Jaric has actually been getting some minutes lately with Lowry out and Javaris Crittenton shipped to D.C. Meanwhile, Darius Miles got his first DNP since resigning with the team over Portland's protestations. The good news, I guess, is that those pre-season games didn't end up being a factor - Darius has played in 12 regular season games for the Grizzlies and was signed for the rest of the season on January 30th. So good for him.
- Rookies. The Grizzlies start three rookies (Mayo, Gasol and Arthur). That's not something you see everyday. I'm honestly not sure why they insist on starting Arthur - he's averaging about 5 points and 4 rebounds, and shooting just over 40%. 40% is terrible for your power forward. But Pau's 'little' brother has been good at 11 points, 7 rebounds and 52% shooting.
- Superstar for one game. Let's go with Mike Conley. Opposing point guards seem to do well against the Clippers.
- Get the Grizzly details from the crew at 3 Shades of Blue. Hopefully they'll have some ClipperSteve answers up over there from a Q&A we did.