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Clippers at Bobcats - Game Preview and Open Thread

LA Clippers logo
Bobcats logo
8-12 7-12
Charlotte Bobcats Arena
Dec. 12, 2007 - 4:00 PM
Probable starters:
Brevin Knight PG Raymond Felton
Cuttino Mobley SG Jason Richardson
Corey Maggette SF Gerald Wallace
Tim Thomas PF Emeka Okafor
Chris Kaman C Primoz Brezec
The Big Picture:  

The Clippers 4-5 road record is equal to Denver, comparable to Dallas (5-6) and better than Houston (6-8).  Too bad they're 4-7 at home (including 5 straight losses).  So heading into Charlotte, against a team that has lost 8 of its last 9 (and is 7-12 overall), is pretty much exactly where the Clippers want to be.   Charlotte does have a winning record at home however at 6-5.  None of the NBA conventional wisdom seems to apply to the Clippers - teams are supposed to be much better at home than on the road, and they're supposed to be especially bad on the second game of back-to-back road games.  But last season the Clippers excelled in back-to-back situations (though they are just 1-3 so far this season).  So who knows what to expect?  I do know this much - the Clippers won't soon get a better chance to grab a winning road record than tonight in Charlotte and Friday in Memphis.

The Antagonist:  

The Bobcats are almost as snake bitten with injuries as the Clippers.  2005 lottery pick is out for the season after micro-fracture surgery.  He missed most of his first two NBA seasons with injuries as well.  2006 lottery pick Adam Morrison, drafted third overall, tore his ACL in pre-season.  While the Bobcats were far from a playoff lock before the injuries, there was nonetheless a lot of optimism in Charlotte after the off-season addition of Jason Richardson.  But 8 losses in their last 9 games have returned Charlotte to expansion team status.  New Jersey lived up to their billing as the 28th worst shooting team in the NBA Tuesday night - and Charlotte isn't much better at a tick over 43%, 25th in the league.  So with the Clippers at 42%, we'll be watching listening to a lot of misses tonight.  Gerald Wallace, Richardson, Raymond Felton and Emeka Okafor all score between 13 and 18 points per game - but Richardson is just over 40% shooting on the season and Felton is UNDER 40%.  With May and Morrison out, the Bobcats don't have much bench to speak of.  Matt Carroll can shoot three's (45%).  Walter Herrmann has a lot of hair.  Jeff McInnis and Derek Anderson are former Clippers.  Jared Dudley is a rookie.  Ryan Hollins went to UCLA.  At this point, I'm just writing simple declarative sentences about inconsequential players who happen to be on the Bobcats roster - let's move on.

The Subplots

  • What happened to Primoz Bezec?  OK, it's not like I was ever a big Primoz Brezec fan.  But I think I might have picked him up off the waiver wire in 04-05 when the centers on my fantasy team got hurt or something.   Anyway, he averaged 13 points and over 7 rebounds a game that year and 12 and 6 the next year.  Not great, but respectable numbers.  In 19 games this season, 17 of them as a starter, he's averaging 2 points and 2 rebounds.  Are you kidding?  Seems like they miss Sean May.
  • Can Okafor handle Kaman?  Emeka Okafor is a terrific basketball player, particularly on the defensive end where he is solid both on the ball and blocking shots (2 a game for his career).  But he's giving away a couple inches and a lot of pounds to Chris Kaman.  So far this season, Kaman has done a good job of going right at smaller opponents (although Ben Wallace handled him well for a half).  It will be interesting to see hear if Charlotte leaves Okafor alone on Chris or brings a double team.  (Yes, Brezec is the starting center, but he only plays 13 minutes.  I assume Okafor will get the lion's share of minutes checking Kaman.)
  • History favors the Clippers.  This is Charlotte's fourth season in the NBA.  In 6 previous meetings, they have never beaten the Clippers.  Of course, the Clippers last two wins came where they had been 1-17 (Arco Arena) and 0-8 (some arena in New Jersey, I forget the name).  So maybe it's not necessarily a good thing that they're 6-0 against the Bobcats.
  • Al Thornton.  With Quinton Ross injured and questionable, it could open up some more minutes for Al Thornton.  Thornton has looked more and more comfortable on the floor, and could have a real break out game any time now.  Frankly, a matchup between Thornton and the equally athletic Wallace on the wing would be really fun to watch.  If I could watch it that is.
  • No TV for you.  Have you noticed a theme in this preview?  This game will not be televised.  Not in LA.  Not in Charlotte.  Not on League Pass.  No TV.  ESPN will get their highlight package from the Jumbotron in the arena.  Of course, who can blame KTLA for wanting to show Reba.  And why would Prime Ticket want another Clippers game, when there's Trackside Live?  But Bill Dwyre will be happy.  Here's what he said in his LA Times column about Ralph and Mike on Tuesday:
    It has been suggested that, as the Clippers go bad, viewers should just turn the sound up and the picture to black.

    Hey guess what, Dwyre?  That's called radio!  And that's what we have tonight.  (Actually, it was a pretty nice piece.  Ralph deserves a lot more recognition than he gets.)