Mar 22, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) drives toward the basket in front of New Orleans Hornets guard Jarrett Jack (2) during the first quarter at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE
|2011/2012 NBA Regular Season|
|March 26th, 2012, 7:30 PM|
|FSN Prime Ticket, NBA-TV, KFWB 980 AM
The Back Story:
The Big Picture:
The low point of the Clippers season came just four days ago, when they gave up a double digit second half lead against the last in the West Hornets and lost by seven. It was their third straight loss, and their 11th loss in 18 games. They scored just 11 points in the fourth quarter, when they're supposed be be winning games not giving them away. It also took the temperature of coach Vinny Del Negro's seat to nuclear hot. But it's difficult to gauge how much of the poor play in the 12 days concluding with that New Orleans game had to do with the insane pace (9 games over that span) and how much had to do with a team tuning out its coach. Did the lack of effort and execution stem fro apathy or from exhaustion? Saturday back in L.A. the Clippers played their best game in a month in a wire-to-wire win over the Grizzlies, the first time in over a month that they played something close to a full 48 minutes of solid basketball. Tonight is a chance to keep that could feeling from the Grizzlies game going forward, and to avenge that bad loss in New Orleans. The Clippers are still in fourth place in the Western Conference standings, just percentage points ahead of Dallas. A win tonight moves them a half game ahead of the Mavs, and within two of the Lakers who lost to Memphis Sunday night.
The Hornets have played hard all season. After beating the Clippers Thursday, they took the Spurs to the wire on Saturday, palying without Chris Kaman, Trevor Ariza and Jason Smith, not to mention Eric Gordon and Emeka Okafor. You have to give coach Monty Williams a ton of credit for getting consistent effort from an undermanned and injury-riddled team night after night. Kaman and Ariza could be back playing tonight and they just got Carl Landry back after an absence of more than six weeks, so they may not be quite a short-handed as they were Saturday -- but they'll definitely be missing Smith (serving the second of his two game suspension for his old school hockey check on Blake Griffin Thursday), and Gordon and Okafor. This game marks the Clippers homecoming for Kaman and Al Farouq Aminu and Gordon (though Gordon won't be playing), all shipped to New Orleans as part of the Chris Paul trade. I'm sure that they'll all get a nice reception from the Clipper faithful, particularly Kaman (who played his first eight seasons with the Clippers) and the much loved Gordon.
- Tonight's Special Guest Recapper:
Yours truly. Citizen johnnyoc21.
- The Questionable Blogger. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten to part two yet, but you are welcome to re-read part one of my chat with Rohan from the Hornets blog At the Hive.
- Key Hornets Metrics
Pace: 88.5 (30th of 30 NBA teams)
Off Rtg: 99.9 (29th of 30)
Def Rtg: 105.2 (18th of 30)
- Key Clippers Metrics
Pace: 88.9 (29th of 30)
Off Rtg: 107.8 (5th of 30)
Def Rtg: 106.3 (21st of 30)
It probably hasn't been discussed enough -- the Clippers, with a premier point guard and the two most athletic bigs in the league, have played at a slow pace all season -- and it's getting slower. They are now the second slowest team in the NBA, behind only the Hornets. Yes, Paul does prefer to play in the half court, but this is just weird. The Clippers just don't run enough.
- Four days later. It's only been four days, so there's not that much new to say about this game. You can go back and read the preview from Thursday if you're really that interested.
- Landry. Carl Landry is back, and that could be a problem. Landry has had some huge games against the Clippers over the last few years.
- Ariza and Kaman. Trevor Ariza and Chris Kaman each missed the Hornets game against the Spurs on Saturday, Ariza with a sore ankle and Kaman due to illness. There's no real news on when or if they'll be back, but at least in Kaman's case one would think he'd play today. Harder to say with Ariza.
- Jason Smith. Jason Smith, who was suspended for two games for his ugly body check on Blake Griffin Thursday in New Orleans, will not be playing in this game while he serves his suspension. Which is probably for the best in his case. With that play so fresh in everyone's minds, Smith would be a marked man on the STAPLES court tonight.
- Foye versus Young. Nick Young was inserted into the starting lineup in his second game as a Clipper in Indianapolis last Tuesday -- and Randy Foye, who had been the starter since Chauncey Billups' injury, ended up getting a DNP. Over the next three games, it's been anyone's guess what Vinny would do -- in OKC they both started, Foye at the two, Young at the three, as VDN rested Caron Butler, in New Orleans Young started and Foye came off the bench, against Memphis Foye started and Young came off the bench. Since Memphis is the only game they actually won, I expect VDN will stick with that lineup, and leave Young with the second unit. In the last game with the Hornets, Foye had one of the worst shooting games in the NBA this season, going 1 for 14.
- The pick from the trade. I just realized this the other day. A big reason that the Clippers trade offer was perceived as better (or maybe just sold as better) for the Hornets than the Lakers trade offer was because of the perceived value of Minnesota's 2012 draft pick. Well, the Lakers offer included a pick from Houston, a 2012 first rounder belonging to the Knicks. Heading into the season, the Knicks pick, given that Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony were playing a full season together along with the newly signed Tyson Chandler, was assumed to be late in the first round, while the Minnesota pick, from a team that had finished near the bottom of the league for three straight seasons, was assumed to be high in the lottery. Guess what? Today, Minnesota's record is 24-26 and New York's is 24-25. New York will likely make the playoffs in the weaker East, while Minnesota will miss likely out in the stronger West, meaning that the MIN pick will be a bit better. But as of now, it's looking like the difference between the 12th pick and the 15th pick.
- Home stand. As I pointed out yesterday, the current home stand is tailor made for the Clippers to get their season back on track. They won game one, and now have four more against poor road teams, many of them chasing the Clippers for a playoff spot. Win these games and it will have a huge positive impact on the Clippers playoff positioning and season outlook.
From the Urban Dictionary:
hornet"The best hornets to shoot at people should be thick and probably made out of flash cards" ~ Me
n. something you shoot from a rubber band and it really hurts! (made from paper)
- Get the Hornets perspective at the Hive.