Clippers Vs. Kings - Game Preview - The Griffin-Cousins Rematch

April 5, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins (left) and Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (right) rest between free throws during the fourth quarter at Power Balance Pavilion. The Clippers defeated the Kings 93-85. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

2011/2012 NBA Regular Season
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vs.
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33-22
19-36
STAPLES Center
April 7th, 2012, 7:30 PM
FS West, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Chris Paul
PG Isaiah Thomas
Randy Foye
SG Francisco Garcia
Caron Butler SF Tyreke Evans
Blake Griffin PF Jason Thompson
DeAndre Jordan C DeMarcus Cousins

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

There's not a lot to say about this game that we didn't say on Thursday before these two teams played in Sacramento. The Clippers won that one, and it got pretty chippy, and that will be the story line tonight. The Clippers shook off their post-loss hangover to get the road win in Sacramento, taking care of the business of holding on to fourth place in the standings and with it home court advantage in the playoffs. They really can't afford a stumble to a sub-.500 team on their home floor (although both Minnesota and Golden State of done the trick this year) -- not with Memphis breathing down their necks in the standings, winning road games in Oklahoma City and Miami within the last week. A loss to the Kings would allow the Grizzlies to leapfrog the Clippers in the standings with a win when the two teams meet in Memphis Monday night. Wow. That would be bad. Looking up in the standings instead of down, the Lakers lost to Houston last night and the Clippers can pull back to within a game of third place with this win. The Lakers own the tie breaker, which means that a tie at the end of the season won't be good enough, but making up two games in the final 10 is certainly possible with the Lakers playing the Spurs three times and OKC once.

The Antagonist:

The Kings played the Clippers tough in Sacramento, and that was with their two tops scorers playing a total of 18 minutes and scoring 8 points. Leading scorer Marcus Thornton missed the game in Capital City with a bruised calf and DeMarcus Cousins, whose been on a tear lately, played limited minutes due to foul trouble. If Thornton is back (unclear) and Cousins has a good bounce back game, the Kings should do better. Then again, the Kings are a decent home team (14-14) and a terrible road team (5-22), second worst in the league. So the Clippers shouldn't be letting them hang around with or without the (De)Marcuses. Cousins was none too pleased with Blake Griffin after Thursday's game, and he's not exactly the most mature dude in the NBA -- if he was cheese, he wouldn't be ready for the Cheez-its yet. So keep an eye on those two under the basket, and hope that Cousins doesn't deliver a cheap shot along the way.

The Subplots

  • Tonight's Special Guest Recapper: The one who leads you fearlessly.
  • The Questionable Blogger. Instead of a pre-game Questionable Blogger, Tom Ziller from Sactown Royalty and I have decided to ask for impressions of each others teams after watching them in back-to-back games. A little different, keeping it fresh. Could be fun. So look for that Sunday or Monday.
  • Key Kings Metrics:
    Pace: 94.5 (1st of 30 NBA Teams)
    Off Rtg: 103.6 (18th of 30)
    Def Rtg: 109.3 (28th of 30)
  • Key Clippers Metrics:
    Pace: 89.0 (28th of 30)
    Off Rtg: 108.3 (3rd of 30)
    Def Rtg: 105.7 (20th of 30)
  • Thursday's preview. Go read Thursday's preview since everything there applies.
  • DVR alert. Tonight's game is again on Fox Sports West, not Prime Ticket.
  • Scary, scary Memphis. I know this is the Kings preview, but the Clippers should be very, very afraid of the Grizzlies about now. Fully healthy for the first time in a while, and with an impressive win over Miami Friday, the Grizzlies are looking like one of the best teams in the league right now. The Clippers will have to close the season strong, because Memphis will be ready to pounce if they don't. That means no lapses against the likes of the Kings. By the time the Clippers and Kings tip off on Saturday night, the Grizzlies and Mavericks will be wrapping up in Memphis, and if the Grizz win that one, they'll be positioned to overtake the Clippers Monday night. You know what I think could happen? Memphis could wind up third, and the Lakers and Clippers wind up fourth and fifth, meeting in the first round.
  • Season Series Sweep? If the Clippers win tonight, they will sweep the season series with the Kings for the first time since the 85-86 season -- the first year the Kings were in Sacramento, the second year the Clippers were in L.A. Of course, the Clippers had a chance at a season sweep last year and also in 07-08, but blew it on the last game in each case.
  • Chuck Hayes. In the first meeting, Griffin-stopper Hayes played 16:18 and Griffin played 30:01 -- they were on the court together for 3:52, which sounds like a decision that might have been made by Keith Stupid, as the Kings coach apparently didn't realize what he had in Hayes or how to use him. By the second half Thursday, Keith Smart appeared to have figured it out. Hayes played 27:23 total, and 19:35 of that was against Griffin, 16 minutes worth in the second half. It's worth noting that Griffin scored six straight after Hayes left the game.
  • Cousins and Griffin. Cousins had a lot to say about Griffin being an actor and about the refs playing favorites after the game on Thursday -- and it cost him $25K. Of course, Cousins also leads the league in fouls per game (by about a mile), so I can only assume all of his opponents are acting and all of the refs are out to get him.
  • New steals leader. With five steals Thursday against the turnover prone Kings, Chris Paul took over the league lead in steals per game from Mike Conley. Then Friday, Conley got three against the Kings and the two speedy point guards are now dead even, 119 steals in 50 games.
  • Weird finishing lineup. Down the stretch in Thursday game, the Kings went small with Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Terrence Williams, Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas. VDN went with his starters, except with Kenyon Martin on for DeAndre Jordan. That left Martin defending Evans -- and KMart did a pretty darn good job.
  • Thornton doubtful. Kings leading scorer Marcus Thornton has a bruised calf muscle that kept him out of the Kings last two games, and he's considered doubtful tonight. Thornton would be a big loss for the not particularly deep Kings -- they are 1-8 without him this season, and they're also missing John Salmons.
  • Williams back. Mo Williams is supposed to be back for the Clippers. The additional offensive punch off the bench will be welcome, but the rotation might be a challenge. Look for Nick Young to slide to the three spot with the second unit and Bobby Simmons to drop out of the rotation -- but that's just my guess.
  • 60th pick. As we've point out, Isaiah Thomas was the the very last pick in June's draft. Mike Smith was talking on Thursday about how unusual it is for a 60th pick to even make a roster, let alone start. By my count, since 1989 when the draft was reduced to two rounds, 10 last picks (they weren't all 60th since there weren't always 30 teams in the league) have played in the NBA. That's 10 in 23 years, so not exactly unheard of. However, many of those like Zeljko Rebraca, Andreas Glyniadakis and Semih Erden were young Euros that were long shots from the start, and stayed in Europe for some seasoning before coming to the NBA. Rebraca (arguably the best last pick of the last 23 years) arrived seven years after being drafted, for a different team. Likewise Maceo Baston eventually made it in the Assoc, but many years after being drafted. So only six played the year they were drafted. Of those, only Don Reid (1995) and Sean Higgins (1990) had anything close to the type of rookie success that Thomas is enjoying -- and each went on to have long NBA careers. Thomas, by my reckoning, holds the minutes and scoring records for last pick rookies, but it remains to be seen what kind of longevity he'll have in the league. It's worth noting that in 1988, when the draft had three rounds, the final pick of the second round went on to have a nice NBA career -- his name was Steve Kerr.
  • From the Urban Dictionary:

    K.I.N.G.

    KING Stands For Keepin It Nuttin But G

    Yo he be qettin mad qirls so u know he King
  • Get the Kings perspective at Sactown Royalty.
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