|New Orleans Arena
|April 15, 2008 - 5:00 PM
|TV: KTLA, Channel 5
The Clippers have won 4 of their last 28 games. Although they looked marginally better against Golden State Saturday night (because they were playing without two starters, as opposed to playing without three or more starters which is their usual approach this season), it's highly unlikely they're going to get another win. Of course, closing the season on the road against teams fighting for the best record in the conference doesn't improve the odds of winning.
In a season of surprises, I think the Hornets are the biggest pleasant surprise (no one can touch the Heat for biggest disappointment). Yet, even as they sat at or near the top of the West standings the entire second half of the season, everyone's been talking about every other team in the Conference. They didn't trade for an All Star (Lakers, Suns, Mavs). They didn't reel off a double digit win streak (Portland, Houston). And they're almost never on TV. They just won a lot more games than they lost. I also think a lot of people (and I'd have to say that I'm one of them) still don't view them as capable of winning the West. I just get the impression that they've overachieved. But we'll find out soon enough.
- Get out the Brooms (Again). Although the losses haven't been quite as one-sided as with the Lakers, the Hornets are nonetheless likely to go 4-0 against the Clippers this year. If it happens, it will be the first time the Hornets (an Eastern Conference team until a few seasons ago) have ever won a 4 game series with the Clippers.
- Tough Schedule. Based on last season's results, closing with games against the Rockets (5th in 06-07), Nuggets (6th), Lakers (7th), Warriors (8th) and Hornets (10th) would have made perfect sense for the barely-missed-the-07-playoffs Clippers. In fact, it would have given them a chance to gain ground on their likely rivals. The reality has been much different - not only playing good teams, but teams fighting for either their playoff lives (Nuggets, Warriors), or first place in the conference (Lakers, Hornets) or home court advantage (Hornets, Rockets). Playing good teams who have something to play for equals losses (which equals ping pong balls, so that's good).
- The Lottery Update. Beasley is in. Rose is reportedly in as well. So the top 6 field, where the Clippers are likely to pick, appears to be set, and it includes 4 guard prospects (Rose, Mayo, Bayless and Gordon). Memphis' loss to Minnesota on Saturday hurt, but now that Denver has secured a playoff spot, I suppose it's possible the Grizzlies could win that game if karl decides to rest some guys. Likewise, now that Indiana has been eliminated, the Knicks' chances in their game with the Pacers have improved.
- Three point shooting. When the Clippers have played New Orleans this season, at some point in each game, the Hornets simply forgot how to miss three pointers. I'd say that the Clippers need to do a better job defending the arc, but as I recall, the defense didn't ever seem to matter. It usually starts right after Peja misses one badly. So if he shoots an air ball or hits the side of the backboard, watch out, because after that, it's 'Shock and Awe' time.
- Fazekas and Williams. I'll just keep writing it until it happens. This game means nothing. Hey, I got an idea! Let's see what these rookies that have been with the team for a very short time can do! FWIW, Ze Freak's PER is still the highest on the team. But why would you want to play him? That would be silly. Against the Warriors, Williams got into the game twice - at the end of quarters tenths of seconds showing on the game clock - 1.6 seconds left in one case. Fazekas didn't get in at all. That made for some good discussion at Yankee Doodles.