The Back Story:
The Big Picture:
The Clippers lost consecutive games last week against seemingly inferior opponents - and then came out and beat the Nuggets on ESPN on Friday. So go right on ahead and figure. Of course, New Orleans proceeded to beat Phoenix and Atlanta, only two of the hottest teams in the league, after beating the Clippers, and Memphis also ran off three straight. So maybe playing those teams on the road wasn't quite the gimme we thought. Against the Nuggets a lot of things went well, and it would be really great if those things would stick around for awhile. Rasual Butler, who has certainly been a disappointment as a Clipper so far, had a great game Friday, scoring a team high 27. His presence on the bench helped the Clippers to a massive bench advantage - and Sebastian Telfair, Craig Smith and DeAndre Jordan all made major contributions as well. By the end of the road trip, the Clippers had seemed to devolve into a two man team of Baron Davis and Chris Kaman. They can't win that way. But if Al Thornton and Butler and Telfair et al can help out, it makes a big difference.
When the Timberwolves came to town back at the beginning of November, we thought they were pretty bad. And they've proven that indeed they are since then. After winning on a last second shot in their season opener (against the winless Nets) Minnesota has now lost 12 straight. And they're mostly getting blown out - their differential is a whopping -15 - much worse than even New Jersey's. They did come close to getting that second win a couple of times - one of them against the Clippers. And it would be just like LA to lose to the Wolves after beating the Nuggets. Al Jefferson remains pretty much the only proven player on the roster; and he's still working his way back into shape after suffering a torn ACL last season. People seem excited about point guard Jonny Flynn - but he's actually averaging more turnovers than assists through 13 games, and that's just not a good formula for your point guard. Their third leading scorer, Corey Brewer, is a career 38% shooter, shooting 36.5% this season. This team might get a little better when Kevin Love returns (he's still at least two weeks away), but even then it will be a struggle. Right now, it's downright ugly.
- Gordon still out. According to Lisa Dillman in the LA Times, Eric Gordon will not play tonight, but has not ruled out Wednesday in Indianapolis. The Clippers have not been particularly good without Gordon, their most efficient scorer and best perimeter defender, so the sooner he gets back the better.
- Baron posting up. With Flynn being pretty small, look for the Clippers to post up Baron. They did it several times when Ty Lawson was in the game - I expect them to go to it early and often against Flynn.
- Kaman 3.0. In the first meeting, Chris Kaman went for 25 points on 10 for 15 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. Kaman's scoring has tailed off some lately - after scoring 20 or more in 9 out of 10 games, he's been under the 20 threshold for three straight. Part of that has to do with more defensive attention - and frankly, if he can pass out of the double team as effectively as he did against Denver where he dished out 6 assists, then the team won't miss the points. Still, with Jefferson being undersized and Ryan Hollins and Oleksiy Pecherov not nearly strong enough, Kaman should be able to abuse the Minnesota bigs.
- Ramon Sessions. The Clippers didn't sign free agent Ramon Sessions this summer, but Minnesota did. In 13 games this season, his averages are off across the board, as is his per minute productivity. You'd think he'd be getting more than 23 minutes a game on this roster. At any rate, it may be that the Clippers will be very happy they didn't sign him in the long run.
- Jefferson showing signs. Al Jefferson was a double-double machine the last two seasons, and was one of the few players in the league to average 20 points and 10 rebounds last season. But before last Wednesday, he hadn't had a single 20-10 games this season. He's no had two in a row, so he may be getting closer to his pre-injury form.
- Al Thornton. In the last four games Al Thornton is averaging almost 20 points per game. After beginning the season in terrible fashion, he's looked very good lately, including a 30 point game in New Orleans.
Oh, well, I wouldn't worry about Pip. He is very brave. I remember this one time, when the poor wolf was being chased by Little Red Riding Hood around his grandmother's house, and she had an axe... oh, and if Pip hadn't been walking by to help I don't know what would've happened!
- Get the Wolves perspective at Canis Hoopus.