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Clippers vs. New Orleans - Game Preview

2009/2010 NBA Regular Season
Staples Center
March 15th, 2010, 7:30 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, 980 AM
Probable starters:
Baron Davis PG Darren Collison
Eric Gordon? SG Morris Peterson
Rasual Butler
SF Julian Wright
Drew Gooden
PF David West
Chris Kaman
C Emeka Okafor

The Back Story:

  • November 9, 2009 in Los Angeles - New Orleans 112 - Clippers 84 - Recap  Box Score
  • November 17, 2009 in New Orleans - New Orleans 110 - Clippers 102 - Recap  Box Score
  • January 13, 2010 in New Orleans - New Orleans 108 - Clippers 94 - Recap  Box Score

The Big Picture:

I swear I thought we were done with the Hornets.  I thought that after the last game, that was it, they had swept the Clippers, and we could just move on.  I don't know why I just ignored this particular game on the schedule.  But lucky us, after going 0-4 against the Spurs, they now have a chance to go 0-4 against another team that has dominated the Clippers in recent seasons.  It's hard to muster much optimism for the team's chances after the five game road trip they just completed.  They were beaten in all five, and none of the games were really close.  But maybe the return home will do the trick.  As bad as things seem right now, there are a couple of things we can bear in mind.  One, the Clippers still have a winning record at home, at 18-14.  (And nine of the final 15 will be played in LA.)  In addition to the decent home record overall, the Clippers have a very good record against teams below .500 at home.  Their worst home loss of the season game against these Hornets, who until recently were above .500.  So there may be some reason for optimism as the Clippers come back to Staples Center for three games.  There's also the possibility that they'll get Eric Gordon back, which would be a huge boost to the team.  Several people had thrown out this game as a possible target, though I have no idea on what they might have been basing that.  As for the guys that were playing on the trip, a few of them either need to start playing better, or maybe just officially shut it down for the season.  Travis Outlaw has been making Al Thornton look like a 'glue guy' by comparison with his unconscionable shot-jacking the last few games.  And Chris Kaman is falling back into all of the bad Mr. Flippy habits.  Surprisingly, Baron Davis still seems motivated - too bad he doesn't have enough help out there.

The Antagonist:

The Hornets hung around the playoff race for awhile without Chris Paul, but it eventually caught up to them.  They've lost nine of their last eleven to fall three games under .500 and they're eight games out of the playoff race.  In other words, Paul can take his time coming back from his injury.  It's too bad for the Hornets - Paul has missed 29 games this season.  They were likely going to struggle to make the playoffs with him in the lineup, but without him they had little chance.  They actually overachieved until this recent slide.  In addition to Paul, Peja Stojakovic, another Clipper killer, is also out currently.  In CP3's absence, rookie point guard Darren Collison from UCLA has gotten the chance to start and has thrived.  He averaged 21.6 points and 8.3 rebounds in the month of February, and had a 20 assist game a week ago against Golden State (who else?).  Collison fellow rookie Marcus Thornton has also been going off lately.  In the last eleven, Thornton has games of 37, 30, 28, 28 and several more 20+ games.  Of course, it's done little to help the team win, as they have only two wins during his offensive tear.

The Subplots

  • Twelve Straight.  The Hornets have beaten the Clippers twelve times in a row.  This is the Hornets we're talking about here.  I mean, sure they've been pretty good in recent years, but twelve losses in a row to the Hornets?  The Clippers have a golden opportunity to end that streak tonight.  Playing at home, the Hornets are just as out of sorts as the Clippers, and New Orleans is coming from a game Sunday in Phoenix. 
  • UCLA vs. UCLA at the point.  Baron always seems to have a little extra motivation when he goes against his fellow Bruins.  I assume tonight will be no different.  I expect that Baron will try to post Collison early in the first quarter to set the tone. 
  • Double digit wins.  The Hornets only have three double digit wins this season, out of 32 total wins.  Of those three double digits wins, two of them came against the Clippers, including a 28 point drubbing in Staples Center way back in November.
  • Home court advantage.  The Clippers, as I mentioned above, are still 18-14 at home, despite how dismally they've been playing lately.  The Hornets on the other hand are 11-23 on the road.  So it would seem like this game should be the Clippers for the taking.
  • Three terrible efforts.  The first three meetings against the Hornets rank among the worst games the team has played this season.  In the first game, the Clippers had won three straight and had a chance to get to .500.  They looked terrible in losing by 28.  Then they lost in New Orleans while Chris Paul was hurt, so it's not as if they're incapable of beating the Clippers without Paul.  The third meeting occurred the day it was announced that Blake Griffin was out for the season and the team played like they'd just gotten terrible news, which of course they had. 
  • Movie Quote: I got nuthin.  All out of Hornet quotes.  I thought about going with a wasp quote, but I decided against it.

  • Get the Hornets perspective At the Hive.