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Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings - Game Preview

2010/2011 NBA Regular Season
Arco Arena
February 28th, 2010, 7:00 PM
FSN Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM
Probable starters:
Eric Bledsoe
PG Jermaine Taylor
Randy Foye
SG Beno Udrih
Ryan Gomes SF Omri Casspi
Blake Griffin PF Jason Thompson
DeAndre Jordan C Samuel Dalembert

The Back Story:

The Big Picture:

The Clippers head into Arco Arena tonight missing their leading scorer Eric Gordon, but at least it's a fair fight, since the Kings are missing their leading scorer, Tyreke Evans, as well. Furthermore, Gordon should be the only Clipper missing due to injury or otherwise, since Baron Davis has now passed his physical in Cleveland, meaning that new Clippers Mo Williams and Jamario Moon will be in uniform for the first time. The Clippers didn't practice Sunday, meaning that Williams and Moon have yet to have a full practice with the team, but they'll go through the shootaround today and I would expect that Coach Vinny Del Negro will throw them both out there, at least for a few minutes; Williams like for more than a few. Gordon will be sorely missed against the Kings, as he has always lit up Sacramento and is averaging close to 30 per game against them this season. Of course Blake Griffin is doing OK against them as well at 21 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 55% against them this season. Also, this will be the first time this season that Chris Kaman will face the Kings, and he always seems to play well against them. Kaman had his best game since returning from a foot injury Saturday versus Boston, scoring 16 points on 8 for 12 shooting - he also grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 3 shots, all in just 27 minutes. It may be time to put him back into the starting lineup. If Kaman and Griffin can play big, if Randy Foye continues to score, and if Williams can be at all productive, this should be a win for the Clippers, which would give them a season sweep over the Kings for the first time in 25 years.

The Antagonist:

Every time the Clippers play Sacramento, the Kings are a mess, and this is no exception. In addition to all of their endemic problems, they are currently missing leading scorer Tyreke Evans, who will be out at least another couple of weeks with plantar fasciitas. Of course, the Kings somehow managed to win in Orlando without Evans in the first game after the All Star break, so you never can tell. When the Clippers last played the Kings, we were amazed that eleven different players had started for the team this season, most of that having to do with looking for someone to produce, as opposed to just injuries. Well, they're up to 13 different players who have started for them, and it's probably only a matter of time until newly acquired Marcus Thornton gets a start also. On the Kings active roster, only Thornton (one appearances with the team on the season) and little used rookie Hassan Whiteside (one appearance) have failed to start at least one game. So basically, if you're good enough to get onto the floor for the Kings more than a couple times, you're good enough to start at least once. Without Evans, the Kings will look to DeMarcus Cousins and Thornton and to a lesser extent Beno Udrih to score. Also, Omri Casspi tends to play well against the Clippers.

The Subplots

  • Last game for the Kings in Arco Arena. This will be the last NBA game played in Arco Arena. No, not because the Kings are leaving, though that may be happening also (see below). The naming rights to the Arena were sold recently, and the changeover becomes official on March 1st. So as of tomorrow, the venerable Arco Arena will be called Power Balance Pavilion, named for a wristband that ostensibly helps athletic performance, but which can't legally claim to do so since it has not one shred of evidence that it does. You stay classy, Sacramento.
  • Anaheim Kings? Of course the real arena news in the Capital is that the Kings need a new one, and given that there is little hope that they're actually going to get one, the Maloof brothers may be relocating in the very near future. The latest development is that the Maloofs have requested, and been granted, an extension on the March 1st deadline to file for relocation. As it stands now, the Maloofs want to discuss their options with the other owners at an April 14-15 meeting of the NBA Board of Governors. The option that appears most likely is that the Kings would move to Anaheim and play in the Honda Center. If this happens, the Los Angeles area would of course have three NBA teams; on most days of the week during the season, you would be able to go to an NBA game.
  • The Not Lakers. If the Kings do move, the Clippers should count themselves lucky that it's happening now instead of a few seasons ago. For over 25 years in LA, the Clippers have survived (sometimes even thrived, at least financially) by being the Not Lakers. Some number of the tens of millions of people in the region will go to games simply because the Clippers represented an alternative to the Lakers. Transplants from other NBA cities, contrarians of all stripes, middle class fans who can't afford Lakers tickets, and champions of the underdog can't bring themselves to root for the Lakers. But if they like basketball and want to support a team, the Clippers are there. Now the Kings might soon be an option for those fans as well. A few years ago, that would have cut deeply into the Clippers fan base, I think, since there would have been another Not Lakers in the region. But now the Clippers are as much the Griffins as they are the Not Lakers, and that identity will remain and sustain them even if the Kings relocate to Orange County.
  • Here we stay. Tom Ziller at Sactown Royalty and others have formed an organization called Here we stay to demonstrate their support for keeping the Kings in Sacramento. The first goal of the organization was to sell out tonight's game against the Clippers, which they did. So the Clippers will be playing in front of a Kings home crowd on a mission no less important than proving that the city can support an NBA team. With the emotions that will be running high at this game, the Clippers could in fact be in trouble tonight.
  • Road record. After a 2-9 road trip, the Clippers' road record stands at 5-24, tied for fifth worst in the league. Then again, the Kings home record is only 7-22, worst in the NBA. So this is a great chance to get road win number 6.
  • Get out the brooms. The Clippers don't sweep a lot of teams, and certainly don't sweep a lot of four game series. The Clippers have already lost to 26 of the 29 NBA teams they have to face this season; the only teams that have not beaten the Clippers are the Kings (0-3), Charlotte (0-1) and the Wizards (0-0). Either of those teams is certainly a potential sweep, but the best bet is probably tonight against the Reke-less Kings. As I mentioned above, if it happens it will be the first time in 25 years since the Clippers swept Sacramento.
  • Hello Mo and Moon. After watching in street clothes in the first two games since the trade was announced, Mo Williams and Jamario Moon will finally get to play tonight, now that the trade has been finalized. With Gordon hurt and Baron gone, Williams is sorely needed. Though he'll still be learning the plays, it can't be that hard to learn "Pick and Roll with Griffin" and "Pick and Pop with Kaman." Moon may help this team also. They have gotten almost no productivity from the small forward spot. Moon won't score any more than the other options, but if he can defend, rebound and simply be active (all things that he has done well at other points of his career) if will be an upgrade over the other options.
  • Bye Bye Butler. The Clippers bought out Rasual Butler today. He is rumored to be headed to Chicago after he clears waivers. Butler got a DNP-CD Saturday in a game in which rookie Willie Warren, who was in Baskersfield with the D-league Jam a week or so ago, got 10 minutes. With Butler already on the bottom rung of the depth ladder, and Williams and Moon joining the active roster, there just wasn't going to be any minutes for Butler. The Clippers save a little money on the buyout, and Butler gets to go play for a contender, so it's a win-win. Rasual has been nothing but a pro through the difficult stretch in which he's played only 110 minutes in the last two months, playing behind very raw rookies in both the backcourt and on the wing: this is a guy who was essentially the full time starter a season ago. We wish Sool the best of luck as he moves on.
  • A new problem: who is inactive? For the first time since Brian Cook went out with a sprained ankle on December 18th, the Clippers will have enough healthy players that some one who was actually capable of playing will have to join Eric Gordon on the inactive list. The choices would seem to be Willie Warren or Ike Diogu. Given the absence of Gordon, and the fact that Williams will barely know the plays, Diogu may be the more logical choice, since it appears that Warren is more likely to be needed in a pinch.
  • Landry. Carl Landry has always played well against the Clippers but he's no longer an issue for the Clippers this season since he was traded to the Hornets, whom the Clippers don't face again. With neither Evans nor Landry playing in this game, it's tempting to say that there's no one much to worry about in this game.
  • Omri Casspi. Perhaps the best Sacramento player in the first three games against the Clippers has been small forward Casspi, who has scored 9 and 21. He's finally back in the Kings revolving door starting lineup over Donte Greene, who seems more or less useless. Greene's season PER is 10.2; Casspi's is 12.0. 12.0 isn't good, but it's a lot better than 10.2.
  • Speaking of PER. Ignoring Marcus Thornton's 16.5 over the course of just two games, the Kings have exactly one player with a PER over the league average of 15: Beno Udrih at 15.7. No wonder they're terrible.
  • Superstar for one game: Beno Udrih. Udrih lit up the Clippers for his career-high a couple of seasons ago in LA.
  • Famous Quotation:

    Do you see those who are skillful in their work? They will serve kings; they will not serve common people.
    Proverbs 22:29
  • Get the Kings perspective at Sactown Royalty.