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Clippers vs. Sacramento - Game Preview


2010/2011 NBA Regular Season

Staples Center
November 25th, 2010, 7:30 PM
Probable starters:
Eric Bledsoe
PG Tyreke Evans
 Eric Gordon SG Luther Head
Al-Farouq Aminu
SF Donte Greene
Blake Griffin
PF Carl Landry
DeAndre Jordan
C Samuel Dalembert


The Back Story:

  • First meeting of the season. The Kings won the season series last year 3 games to 1.

The Big Picture:

The Clippers finally got their second win of the season on Monday when they beat the Hornets, who were 11-1 at the time. It was a much needed boost of confidence, but the good feelings from that win will dissipate pretty quickly with a loss to the Kings. Both Chris Kaman and Baron Davis should in theory be inching closer to their returns to game action, but I'm not counting on either of them being out there tonight. Lisa Dillman tweeted that Kaman shot and Baron practiced on Wednesday, but she didn't seem convinced they were going to play either. In addition, Randy Foye is still nursing a sore hamstring and missed Wednesday's practice. But the two most important Clippers right now are definitely Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon. Griffin scored 44 in the Saturday loss to the Knicks, then went for 24 and 13 in the big win. Gordon had 27 against the Hornets, and is averaging 23 on the season and 25 in the month of November. For the time being, and probably for awhile to come, if the Clippers win, it will be on the strength of the G-men, the G-force, the Killer G's, Griffin and Gordon.

The Antagonist:

The Kings opened the season 3-1 (against competition that was so decidedly week that I had to post about it during the first week of the season). Since then, they've lost 8 out of 9. They're also struggling to establish a rotation. Only Tyreke Evans and Carl Landry are fixtures in the starting lineup, and everyone else is somewhere between a starter and the 12th man. x different players have started for the Kings, almost none of it because of injuries to the regular starters. Meanwhile, Omri Casspi, who was the starter at small forward until recently, has gotten DNPs in two of the Kings last three games. So yeah, they're trying to figure things out up in the state capital. Evans had been good, in his second season, but not as good so far as he was last year when he was Rookie of the Year. His stats are down across the board, but his shooting is the biggest problem, as he's only making 43% of his shots overall, and 21% of this threes. Landry is the second leading scorer at 14 per game, but he's shooting a career low percentage. So nothing is coming easy for the Kings right now. Add in the fact that they're also one of the worst defensive teams in the league, and you understand why they have lost 8 out of 9.

The Subplots

  • Good news, bad news preview. The bad news is that this is going to be a skimpy preview. I'm visiting relatives for the holiday, it's late, and I'm going to get to bed soon so that I can enjoy my Thanksgiving tomorrow. The good news is that Citizen bacek stepped up and shared his expertise on the Kings with us earlier today, something that I greatly appreciate. I think this could be a real boon to the community, so if any citizens out there consider themselves experts on the Suns, I'd love something similar for tomorrow night's game. Thanks again to bacek for his excellent insights into the Kings.
  • Beating the bad teams. The Clippers have, as we've mentioned many times, played a lot of very difficult teams this season. Ironically though, they've done better against the good teams than they have against the bad teams. Both of their wins have come in the 10 games against teams with winning records - but they're 0-5 against teams with losing records (or make that 0-4, since Indiana is now above .500). The injuries certainly haven't helped, but the Clippers have got to win the games they're 'supposed' to win (if indeed they're supposed to win any) as the first step to becoming a respectable team.bacek
  • Landry. As Citizen bacek pointed out, Carl Landry is the type of power forward that has given the Clippers trouble in the past - a tweener who can face up and with a quick first step and a high energy level. Of course, that was when the Clippers power forward was Zach Randolph or Marcus, not Blake Griffin. I'm hopeful that Griffin will win the battle with Landry on both ends.
  • More on Landry. The Houston Rockets have given us two of the more interesting case studies in recent years, one of a role player that became a starter for them, and another of a role player that left Houston to become a starter. Trevor Ariza went from Lakers sixth man to featured scorer for the Rockets, and showed clearly that you can't just take more shots and become a force on offense. Meanwhile, Landry was hyper-efficient in a limited role for several seasons in Houston before being traded to the Kings. A career 55% shooter, Landry is shooting below 50% for the first time in his career this season with the Kings, his first as a full time starter. Of course, defenses don't have to game plan for too many guys when they face the Kings, so Landry certainly isn't sneaking up on anyone.
  • Griffin. Here's my favorite current Blake Griffin stat. There are three players in the NBA this season who are avearging at least 18 points per game, 10 rebounds per game, and shooting 50% from the field. Those three players are Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin. That's some pretty good company for a rookie to be in. Not to mention that his numbers are trending up right now.
  • Defending Evans. Tyreke Evans is a tough cover for anyone. The Clippers will have to decide how they want to defend them. If they put Eric Bledsoe on him, he's giving away about six inches. Eric Gordon is the better defender, but the Clippers can't really afford to have Gordon get into foul trouble. It will be interesting to see how Vinny Del Negro decides to handle this matchup. Don't be surprised if the Clippers decide to play a LOT of zone, to control Evans' penetration.
  • Three point defense. In 15 games this season, the Clippers opponents have shot 40% or better 11 times, and the Clippers have lost all 11 of those games. By contrast, the Clippers have won two of the three games in which they've limited their opponent to under 33% from the arc. So it's that simple right? It may not be that simple, but it's certainly something for the defense to focus on. Fortunately, the Kings are the second worst three point shooting team in the league, at a hair below 30% on the season. Casspi, Luther Head and Francisco Garcia are the only players making more than one quarter of their threes, and the only ones to have made at least 10 threes this season for the Kings. So those are the one you have to watch, but on the whole it bodes well for the Clippers that the Kings are not very good from deep.
  • DeMarcus Cousins. DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe's college teammate, was widely regarded as the second most talented player in the draft this summer. Yet, he dropped to the fifth pick, based largely on concerns about his maturity level. Indeed, Cousins has already been fined in Sacramento this season for unspecified reasons. The biggest problem for Cousins right now is just his shooting percentage, which is below 40%, a terrible number for a guy with his skill set.
  • Aminu. With Donte Greene the likely starter at the three for the Kings, I assume that Aminu will get another start for the Clippers. AFA played great in the first half against the Hornets, and though he made some mistakes in the second half, overall it was one of his stronger games. I have a feeling this will be a big night for the Chief.
  • National TV. For the fourth time this season, the Clippers are on National TV, this time on TNT. The bad news is that if you want to listen to Ralph and Mike, you'll need to turn on the radio (and hope that the radio is using the same delay as TNT). The good news is that you can watch the game, even if you're visiting relatives in Seattle (like me). I'm guessing that the networks don't even mind showing the 2-13 Clippers, since Blake Griffin is a poster waiting to happen.
  • Superstar for one game: given that this feature more or less exists because of career nights from the likes of Beno Udrih and Carl Landry a couple of seasons ago, it would be fitting to pick one of them. But since they've already had their "where did that come from" games against the LAC, I feel like I should pick someone else. How about Casspi?   He's been on the outs with the Kings, but maybe this will be the game that he gets back into the rotation.
  • Famous Quotation: 

    Idleness and pride tax with a heavier hand than kings and parliaments. If we can get rid of the former, we may easily bear the latter.
    Benjamin Franklin.
  • Get the Kings perspective at Sactown Royalty.