USA TODAY Sports
The Clippers will be without Chris Paul and likely missing Blake Griffin as well, but the Magic will probably be missing their top four scorers in a battle of injury-ravaged teams.
|2012/2013 NBA Regular Season|
|February 6th, 2013, 4:00 PM|
|Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
|Buy Clippers Tickets|
|Eric Bledsoe||PG||Ish Smith|
|Willie Green||SG||E'Twaun Moore|
|Caron Butler||SF||Moe Harkless|
|Lamar Odom||PF||Josh McRoberts|
|DeAndre Jordan||C||Nikola Vucevic|
|Advanced Stats through games of Feb. 5|
|91.7 (14th of 30)||Pace||91.3 (17th of 30)|
|109.1 (5th of 30)||ORtg||102.5 (26th of 30)|
|102.0 (5th of 30)||DRtg||107.7 (25th of 30)|
|Chris Paul (knee) DTD||Arron Afflalo (calf) out|
|Blake Griffin (hamstring) GTD||Jameer Nelson (bruised arm) doubtful|
|Chauncey Billups (ankle) out||J.J. Redick (shoulder) out|
|Trey Thompkins (knee) out||DeQuan Jones (foot) out|
|Glen Davis (foot) out|
|Al Harrington (knee surgery) out|
The Back Story:
The Big Picture:
On the afternoon of January 12, 25 days ago, the Clippers had a 28-8 record, tied for the best record in the NBA, heading into a home game against the lowly Orlando Magic. Near the end of a lifeless outing, the score was tied 99-99 with 55 seconds and the ball was loose after an Orlando miss. At that point, J.J. Redick of the Magic banged knees with Chris Paul of the Clippers and L.A.'s season took a decided turn for the worse. After a timeout, Redick nailed a three pointer and the Magic won that game, and the Clippers are just 6-8 overall since that day. It took them two and a half months to lose their first eight games with a healthy Paul -- it has taken just 25 days to lose eight more with Paul hurt. The good news I suppose is that there's no reason to suspect that the Clippers won't be among the league leaders again once Paul returns to full strength, but the bad news is that it's looking less and less likely that his return will occur on the current road trip, which has started 1-3 and has four games remaining. The even worse news is that Blake Griffin is now injured as well, having missed the last game with a strained hamstring. Griffin is listed as a game time decision for tonight, but I'd be shocked if he played. With both of their stars likely out, the Clippers will lean heavily on Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, but others are going to have to step up as well.
The Magic don't really want to hear any complaints about injuries from the Clippers camp. Six players, including their four leading scorers, missed their last game and are likely to miss this one as well. The Magic have been the worst team in basketball in 2013 and are 2-21 in their last 23 games. It's a bitter reality that one of those wins came in L.A. against the Clippers. They've lost 10 in a row and feature three rookies and four more players with 100 or fewer games of NBA experience among their nine healthy bodies for tonight's game. Most non-fanatical NBA fans would not recognize any player who appeared in their last game other than Hedo Turkoglu and possibly Josh McRoberts. Assuming none of Orlando's players listed as doubtful make a surprise appearance tonight, this will undoubtedly be the least talented team the Clippers face all season.
- Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers, despite their recent run of poor play, are once again the only NBA teams in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency, though they are down to five in both (San Antonio is barely sixth in offensive efficiency). Orlando on the other hand is bottom six in both categories.
- What a difference 25 days make. When last these teams met, the Clippers were 28-8, tied with the Thunder for best record in the NBA and three games ahead of the 28-11 Spurs in the loss column. The Clippers are 6-8 since then, while the Spurs are 10-0, a six game difference in the standings, but eight games in the loss column of course. The Thunder are 8-4 in the same time period, which has kept them more in striking range.
- Afflalo and Redick out. Orlando shooting guards Afflalo and Redick, first and second on the team in scoring average respectively, have both been ruled out of the game according to Orlando Sentinel reporter Josh Robbins. This is good news for the Clippers -- Afflalo and Redick combined for 51 of Orlando's 104 points in the loss in L.A. making seven of their 11 three pointers. They also combined for 13 of the Magic's final 21 points as they outscored the Clippers 21-11 in the last six minutes. Oh, and Redick also hurt Chris Paul sending the Clippers into a tailspin, so there's that.
- Three point shooting. The Orlando game was one of way too many in which torrid three point shooting by their opponent has doomed the Clippers. With so many of their primary threats injured, that shouldn't be a big problem in this game, but things have a way of happening to the Clippers. E'Twaun Moore is the only healthy member of the Magic who has made more than 15 threes this season. Then again, Ish Smith has only made two, but naturally one of them came against the Clippers.
- Help from the chasers. The Clippers are struggling, but they got a break last night when the two teams closest to them in the standings both lost. Phoenix defeated the Grizzlies in Memphis while the Warriors gave up 140 points in their loss to Houston, keeping those teams 2.5 to 3 games back. Denver is in a virtual tie with Memphis now for the fourth spot, and the Nuggets are the second hottest team in basketball after the Spurs. The Clippers have six games left before the All Star break and at this point they'd probably be relieved to hold on to third until then.
- Poor Orlando fans. Can you imagine having tickets to this game? The Clippers make exactly one appearance in Orlando all season, and the fans probably won't see either Chris Paul or Blake Griffin play. Not only that, their own team is so completely decimated by injuries that they're almost unrecognizable. I'm telling you, I may not watch, and all I have to do is sit on my couch. There's NO WAY I would drive to an arena to watch this game.
- Motivation. The Clippers should have plenty of motivation at least. Obviously they need a win, since they've lost three straight and seven of nine. They also do NOT want to be swept by the Magic, one of the worst teams in the league in this rebuilding year. Hopefully they won't let down even though they know the Magic are severely depleted. After all, the Clippers are missing some guys too, and they badly need a win.
- Stepping up. This is a chance for some players who are usually asked to fill a role to step up and show us what they can do. Crawford is a scorer even when Paul and Griffin are healthy, so we know what he can do. Bledsoe has had some highs and lows starting for Paul, but with Griffin gone as well he absolutely needs to look to score. Caron Butler needs to channel his former All Star self and score more as well. But most importantly Lamar Odom needs to score more than three points. Against Washington, the Clippers got essentially zero offense from their bigs. DeAndre Jordan had three dunks and he and Odom and Ronny Turiaf combined to score 10 points total. For a team that has thrived in the paint all season, that's a disaster. Jordan did have a career high rebounding the ball against the Wizards which was great to see in Griffin's absence.
- Vucevic. One of the pieces Orlando received in the four team trade that send Dwight Howard to the Lakers was former USC center Nikola Vucevic. Vucevic has started every game for Orlando this season and is looking like a legitimate NBA center. Recalling his college game, I thought of him as a face up center with a pretty decent 18 footer but a little soft. Instead he's been a rebounding beast, and is fourth in the NBA in rebounding. Howard leads the NBA in rebounding, but Vucevic is actually better on a per minute basis. Wow. The battle of the boards between him and DeAndre could be fun to watch tonight.
- Harkless. Rookie Moe Harkless is another piece Orlando got in the Howard trade. His playing time had been sparing until recently, but injuries to everyone else have forced him into the starting lineup. He has responded with games of 19 and 16 in the last 10 days.
- Grant Hill. Grant Hill returns to Orlando, where a huge section of his NBA career was essentially wasted as he suffered injury after injury. It's been so long now, it's difficult to fathom just how great Hill was during his six seasons in Detroit. He posted a PER of 23.9 or higher in three of those seasons. He averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists as a Piston -- those are LeBron Jamesian numbers. But after signing a massive seven year free agent contract with the Magic, he missed 281 regular season games in his first four seasons there, and has never been the same player. It's actually amazing how he has resuscitated his career as a much more limited but still very effective player after all of those injuries.
- Connections. Grant Hill spent seven forlorn seasons in Orlando. Matt Barnes was a starting small forward for the Magic in one season of his well-traveled NBA career. Ryan Hollins and Arron Afflalo were UCLA teammates for two seasons. Ish Smith of the Magic is the third best Wake Forest point guard currently in the NBA, behind Jeff Teague and one other guy whose name escapes me.
- Get the Orlando perspective at Orlando Pinstriped Post.
- Lyrical reference:
Someone Keeps Moving My Chair -- They Might Be Giants
But Mr. Horrible says, "I don't mind
The thing that bothers me is
Someone keeps moving my chair"
"Would you mind if we balance this glass of milk
Where your visiting friend accidentally was killed?
Would it be okay with you if we wrote a reminder
Of things we'll forget to do today otherwise,
Using a green magic marker, if it's alright
On the back of your head?"
I realize that They Might Be Giants is not everyone's cup of tea. But surely you can appreciate the absurd genius of writing a to do list on the back of a guy's head in green magic marker. This is one of my favorite TMBG songs ever, from the Flood album that sort of put them on the map in an almost (but not quite) mainstream way. They've got a show coming up at the Anaheim House of Blues in case you're interested.