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Clippers - Rockets Preview

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The good news is that Tracy McGrady has missed the Rockets last few games, and they're not nearly as good without him.

The bad news?

(a) The Clippers suck.
(b) Yao absolutely OWNS Chris Kaman.
(c) McGrady is making progress, and could play.

As the Clippers continue through a murderous December schedule (9 out of their first 13 games in the month against teams over .600), they are in danger of losing touch with the top teams in the conference.  Completely incapable of winning on the road (a league worst 1-8), they've now lost 3 out of 5 at home.  They haven't beaten a Western contender since November 8, 5 games into the season.  Increasingly, they look like a team that would have to improve significantly just to squeak into an 8th playoff seed, only to be quickly dispatched by the likes of San Antonio or Utah.  

How they handle Yao will be key on Sunday.  He scored 35 points (on 35 shots) in Houston's double OT loss to the Lakers Friday night.  Kaman has never had any clue how to handle Yao, so look for MDSr to use a quick hook on Chris and go to Aaron Williams instead.  

Sam Cassell's foot is really hurting him, and Cat Mobley has been missing in action lately.  (Cat took only 2 shots in the loss to Portland.)  Shaun Livingston had a terrific game against the Blazers, but the Clippers anemic perimeter game gets significantly worse if Cat and Sam are ineffective.  And of course Yao's presence inside makes it imperative to get SOMETHING from the perimeter.

The Clippers really need this win, but they certainly won't get it the way they've been playing lately.