|2010/2011 NBA Regular Season|
|Time Warner Cable Arena
|March 7th, 2011, 4:00 PM|
|FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
The Back Story:
The Big Picture:
It hardly seems fair. So many things hardly seem fair. It hardly seems fair that the Clippers are once again without Eric Gordon, after getting him back for a little more than one game after he had missed 18 games with a sprained wrist. But after being once again knocked to the floor, this time by Timofey Mozgov of the Nuggets on Saturday, Gordon is out again with the same wrist issue. The initial estimate is 7 to 10 days, or pretty much the current road trip. He did not travel with the team to Charlotte. And speaking of being on the road, didn't the Clippers just get back? They've played 12 of their last 17 games on the road, yet somehow they're back out on a five game trip. That stretch, when it's all done, will be 17 out of 22 games away from home - that's nuts. Their record this season on the road is 5-25. Their record without Eric Gordon is 4-16. So neither of those things bodes particularly well for tonight. They do have some things working for them, though. For one, Charlotte is also hurting, and has lost five straight. Also, the last time they played the Bobcats, Blake Griffin had a terrific game, and Charlotte had pretty much no answer for him. In Gordon's absence, new point guard Mo Williams will need to provide perimeter scoring, while Randy Foye and Eric Bledsoe will try to pick up the slack as well. Bledsoe had his best game as a Clipper Saturday - or at least his best quarter, scoring 15 of his season-high 20 in the final period to clinch the victory over Denver.
Life in the Eastern Conference is interesting. In the East, you can give up on your season and trade your best player, who was an All Star last season in the only season in which your team has ever made the playoffs, yet still be in the thick of the playoff race. Charlotte traded Gerald Wallace to the Trailblazers at the deadline, for Joel Przbilla, Dante Cunningham and a couple of draft picks. They's lost four of five since - and they're still just one game out of the final playoff spot in the East. Crazy. But with Wallace gone, and Stephen Jackson now out with a hamstring injury he suffered a couple of games ago against the Lakers, the Bobcats look pretty terrible on paper at least. With Wallace gone and Jackson (not to mention Tyrus Thomas) out, the only players averaging double figures in the lineup for Charlotte tonight will be D.J. Augustin (14.4 points per game) and Boris Diaw (10.8). Gerald Henderson, Dominic McGuire and Kwame Brown are the other three starters - arguably none of them even belong in the league, much less starting. Don't get me wrong, the Clippers are fully capable of losing to them - they lost to the Cavs, after all. But this was a pretty weak team before, and without Wallace and Jackson, it's much, much worse.
- Griffin. Charlotte tried to single cover Griffin in the first quarter of the game in LA, and Blake scored 15 points in the first quarter. After that, they began to double, and the Clippers perimeter players hit 11 threes. Neither Diaw nor McGuire, nor anyone else on the Bobcats roster for that matter, can defend hope to contain Griffin.
- Sweep? The Clippers have not swept anyone this season. They had a chance to sweep the Kings, but lost game four in Sacramento last week. They've lost at least one game to 27 of the 29 NBA teams, leaving the only have two potential sweeps on their remaining schedule - tonight versus Charlotte, and then against Washington, whom they have yet to play this season.
- Offensively challenged. The Bobcats are 29th in the league in points per game, 25th in offensive efficiency. But that was with Wallace and Jackson. Without their two leading scorers, they must surely be the worst offensive team in the league. They are 29th in three point percentage, which bodes well for the Clippers since they tend to lose when they give up a lot of threes.
- The bright side. If there's a bright side to Gordon's injury, it may be the additional experience it allows for Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was astonishing down the stretch against Denver. There are few, if any, players his size who have his physical skills. He's quick, and fast and strong - he's a great rebounder, not just for his size but for any size. When he's shooting the ball with confidence and playing with at least a modicum of control, he's a truly special player.
- Foye as starter. Randy Foye, who will be starting at shooting guard in Gordon's absence, is averaging 17.5 points per game as a starter, compared with 4.5 points as a reserve. He's shooting 41% overall and 36% from deep when he starts, compared with 31% and 27% coming off the bench.
- Williams winning. Mo Williams won just 2 of the last 23 full games he played in with the Cavaliers. He has won 2 of 3 he's played in with the Clippers. It's not often you make a major upgrade when you get traded to the Clippers, but this is definitely one of those cases. Hopefully Williams can extend his winning streak to three tonight.
- More D.J.'s than a radio station. Charlotte already had D.J. Augustin on their roster, and at the deadline they traded with the Thunder for D.J. White (Eric Gordon's teammate at Indiana). The Clippers feature DeAndre Jordan, aka DJ. Put the needle on the record.
- East bashing. Charotte is one game away from the playoffs in the East, while the Clippers are 11.5 games out of the playoffs in the West. Yet the Clippers actually have a better point differential than the Bobcats (3.4 to 3.5).
- Augustin. A little over a month ago when these teams met, I called Augustin a candidate for Most Improved Player. However, he has come considerably back down to earth since then. During February he averaged just 11 points per game, while shooting less than 40% from the field and 26.5% from deep.
- Bobcat bench. It's tempting to totally dismiss the Charlotte bench. However, in the first meeting, the Clippers pretty much destroyed Charlotte's starters to build a 25 point lead. Then, in the fourth quarter, Matt Carroll, former Clipper Shaun Livingston and Gerald Henderson (starting in Jackson's absence tonight) led a spirited comeback. So you never can tell.
- Superstar for one game: Livingston. I'd love to be right on this one. Shaun's season-high is 16 this year, and I'd love to see him top that.
Proportion ... You can't help thinking about it in these London streets, where it doesn't exist.... It's like listening to a symphony of cats to walk along them. Senseless discords and a horrible disorder all the way.... A concert of Brobdingnagian cats. Order has been turned into a disgusting chaos. We need no barbarians from outside; they're on the premises, all the time.
- Get the Bobcats perspective at Rufus on Fire.