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Clippers vs. Bobcats - Game Preview and Open Thread

LA Clippers logo
Bobcats logo
13-27 17-27
Staples Center
Jan. 28, 2008 - 7:30 PM
Probable starters:
Sam Cassell PG Jeff McInnis
Quinton Ross SG Matt Carroll
Corey Maggette? SF Jason Richardson
Tim Thomas PF Gerald Wallace
Chris Kaman C Emeka Okafor
The Big Picture:

For all of their 13-27 misery, the Clippers have mostly taken care of business against weaker opponents.  Prior to Saturday's loss in Memphis they hadn't lost to a team with a losing record in 6 weeks, and they haven't lost such a game all season with a lineup even approaching full generic strength (as opposed to the full strength Brand-name stuff you have to have a prescription to get).  The last loss to a bad team prior to Saturday?  In Charlotte against the Bobcats.  The bad news is that the Clippers may not be anywhere close to full strength tonight either.  Kaman's shin is still hurting, plus both he and Maggette have the flu.  Great.  K2 and Maggette are both listed as game time decisions.

The Antagonist:

The Bobcats have shown some signs of progress in the last month or so.  They are 6-6 in their last 12 games, including a shocking win in Boston.  Gerald Wallace and Jason Richardson have led the resurgence.  They're averaging 21.3 and 20.3 respectively on the season, but over 23 each in January.  In the first meeting between these teams, the Bobcats overcame a 13 point 3rd quarter deficit to win the game.  It was one of those road games not televised in LA, so that means I've watched the Bobcats play exactly... let's see... carry the three... zero times this season.  Turns out former Clippers Jeff McInnis and Derek Anderson are both on their team.  So there's that.  Raymond Felton is listed as doubtful for the Kitties because of a sprained ankle.

The Subplots

  • Skeleton crew.  With Brand, Davis and Livingston recovering from major injuries, Diaz waived and Kaman and Maggette ill, the Clippers could have as few as 9 healthy bodies tonight.  And that's counting Aaron Williams, who was only on the floor for 7 minutes in a starting role as Kaman's replacement Saturday.  Of course, Kaman and/or Maggette may decide to play, or the Clippers could bring in a ten day guy at the last minute.  This could be one of those games where a guy with no name on his jersey plays 32 minutes.
  • Thornton has to show up.  If Maggette can't go, Al Thornton will get the start at small forward.  If Kaman can't go, he'll get a lot of minutes at power forward as Thomas slides over to play the post.  Either way, he figures to play a lot tonight, and the Clippers could really use his offense.  In the last few games, Al has looked great at home (almost 20 per game in the last three in Staples) and bad on the road (7 per game in the last three).  That's not real unusual for a rookie.  He's back home, we need a big game.
  • Stopping Wallace and Richardson.  The Bobcats, like the Clippers, don't have a lot of places they can go for points.  Wallace and Richardson are their two main weapons, especially with Felton out.  Wallace is currently playing the four for Charlotte - that's a tough matchup for Tim Thomas.  Short-handed as they are, they may not have a lot of choices.  But I wouldn't be surprised to see MDsr go small as he did in Memphis, with Thomas at the 5 and Thornton at the 4.  In which case, Thomas will have to work hard to keep Okafor off the glass.  Both Q Ross and Cat Mobley are well suited to defend against Jason Richardson.
  • What might have been.  The Clippers and Bobcats swapped picks 4 drafts ago, and Charlotte drafted Okafor with the second pick while the Clippers drafted Shaun Livingston fourth.  Now that Chris Kaman is playing so well, at least it appears that LA did not really need Okafor.  But it remains true that the Clippers could have had anyone in that draft except for Dwight Howard had they kept the pick.  Okafor, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Al Jefferson, anyone.  Livingston may yet turn into the player we all hope he can be, but the second pick, even in a weak draft, is supposed to yield a big time player.
  • Speaking of Livingston.  It was about 11 months ago in the last home game against these Bobcats when Livingston blew out his knee when he landed awkwardly after an uncontested layup.