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Clippers @ New Orleans - Game Preview and Open Thread

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2008/2009 NBA Regular Season

Lac1_70_medium
vs.
Noh_70_medium
New Orleans Arena
January 9th, 2009, 5:00 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, 710 AM
Probable starters:
Mardy Collins PG Chris Paul
Eric Gordon SG Rasual Butler
Al Thornton SF Peja Stojakovic
Brian Skinner PF Davis West
Marcus Camby C Tyson Chandler

The Back Story:

  • November 24, 2008 in LA: New Orleans 99 - Clippers 87 Box Score Recap

The Big Picture:

Nine losses in a row and counting. Ten game losing streaks are ugly. The STRK column in the NBA standings goes to double digits (LOST 10). The L10 column looks even worse - 0-10. But this is where we are headed citizens. The Clippers are playing the second game of a back to back. The Hornets are rested. The Clippers are on the road. The Hornets are at home. The Clippers are missing 5 of their top 9 players. The Hornets are completely healthy. This cannot possibly end well. The Clippers managed to be competitive into the fourth quarter of the first meeting, even without Zach Randolph. Eric Gordon had his breakout game in that one, scoring 25 points in his first career start.

The Antagonist:

The Hornets are bound to be a little peeved, coming off their worst defeat of the season Wednesday night in Utah. That doesn't bode well for the Clippers either. Chris Paul and David West are both averaging just over 20 points per game this season, and they are just really, really tough to stop. Paul goes where he wants to on the court, and finds a way to finish at the rim. He's shooting 50% on the season, which is pretty astounding for a guy his size. And West is simply an uncanny mid-range shooter. If he gets an open look inside of 20 feet, he will make it. Add in shooters like Peja Stojakovic and Rasual Butler and James Posey, and a defensive center in Tyson Chadler who knows his role, and this team is very good. I'm not yet convinced that they're an elite team - they're very dependent on CP3, so if you can find a way to disrupt him, they can be beaten. But they're very, very good.

The Subplots:

  • Eric Gordon - EJ didn't have his best game against the Spurs, but he still managed to put up 21, his sixth consecutive game over 20. I think he'll have another big game tonight if he's not too tired. He played 40 minutes last night, and is averaging 42 per game in his last 8. I don't think Rasual Butler can stop him. It will be interesting to see if the Hornets put James Posey on him.
    The matchup zone. Yesterday I said that the Spurs were a really bad team to use a zone against, because of their shooters, and because Tony Parker is the best penetrator in the NBA. I lied. Chris Paul is the best penetrator in the NBA. And the Hornets also have a lot of shooters. I sure wouldn't use a lot of zone against these guys if I was the coach. On the other hand, EJ is the only guy on the Clippers even remotely capable of staying in front of CP3 in a man-to-man, and I'm sure that coach doesn't want to wear EJ out on the defensive end, or risk foul trouble. And the pick and roll is less of a problem against the matchup. What to do? It's a dilemma.
    Ones and fours. On this brief trip, the Clippers have faced Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, and tonight they see Chris Paul and David West. Against these all star point guards and power forwards, they are starting Mardy Collins and Brian Skinner. That's just absurd. Like a Pirandello play.
    Thornton. Thornton against Stojakovic is the other matchup the Clippers could conceivably exploit tonight. It's pretty clear that Al and EJ have to carry the scoring load for the time being. I'd definitely like to see Al make quicker and better decisions, but he shot very well in San Antonio last night (10 for 18) but he didn't get to the line a single time, which tells you he wasn't really attacking the rim.
    Julian Wright. Anyone know what's going on with Julian Wright? He's only played 32 minutes for them since the beginning of December, and hasn't even been on the active roster lately, but I can't find any injury reports on him. Byron Scott's doghouse is infamous - past residents included J.R. Smith and one Baron Davis. Is it possible that Byron simply has deactivated last year's promising lottery pick? In favor of the likes of Melvin Ely and Sean Marks? Yikes.
  • All Star for one night. Citizen Lawler's Law reminded me that I hadn't included this feature in my last couple of previews. The old ClipperSteve reverse mojo hex could have taken Roger Mason Jr. right out of last night's game if only I'd remembered. For New Orleans let's go with Rasual Butler. There is a precedent - in March of 2006 he scored 32 against the Clippers, which I'm going to say is his career high, without even looking it up, because that's how I roll.
  • Get the Hornets perspective at the Hiive.