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Clippers-Hornets Preview: Bouncing Back

The Clippers started off their road trip with two blow out wins against the Magic and Heat. Facing a big test last night, the Clippers were demolished by the Grizzlies. Tonight they look to bounce back against the Hornets.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Regular Season

November 24th, 2014, 4:00 PM
Time Warner Cable Arena
Prime Ticket, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
2-1 East 3-4
5-4 West 1-6
4-3 Home 3-3
3-2 Road 1-7
3-5 .500+ 4-6
4-0 .500- 0-4
5-5 L10 3-7
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Kemba Walker
J.J. Redick SG Lance Stephenson
Matt Barnes SF Gerald Henderson
Blake Griffin PF Marvin Williams
DeAndre Jordan C Al Jefferson
Advanced Stats
96.50 (9th of 30) Pace 93.49 (24th of 30)
106.3 (5th of 30) ORtg 98.3 (25th of 30)
104.7 (20th of 30) DRtg 104.3 (19th of 30)
Chris Douglas Roberts (achilles) out
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (stress reaction foot) out

Jeff Taylor (susepended) out

The Back Story (The teams split the season series 1-1):

Date Venue Final

01/01/14 Los Angeles Clippers 112, Bobcats 85 Recap Box
01/22/14 Charlotte Clippers 91, Bobcats 95 Recap Box

The Big Picture:

With the first two games of the Clippers road trip everything seemed to have cured itself from the early season struggles and the team was back to playing the fluid, devastating basketball from last season which steamrolled many teams. However, when put up against a real test in the Memphis Grizzlies, currently the best team in basketball, the Clippers couldn't respond. Throughout the night they struggled to score against the stingy defense of the Grit-and-Grind, but more than offensive struggles, the Grizzlies lit them up on the defensive end. Marc Gasol looked unstoppable as and MVP candidate as he scored at will and surgically picked the Clippers apart. The Clippers will try their best to have short memories as they have no time to dwell on their loss with another game against the Hornets coming up so quickly. No one thought the Clippers would go undefeated on this road trip, especially with how brutal the scheduling was, but the rest of the games are definitely winnable, especially with Dwight Howard being out for the foreseeable future. If the Clippers can manage to go 6-1 or 5-2 on this trip it will be considered a success, but all of that starts first with a win against the Hornets tonight.

The Antagonist:

The Hornets came into this season with increased expectations to build off of a playoff appearance last year. The Hornets brought many of their core players back again while also adding in some free agent signings on the wing with Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams, while also extending Kemba Walker. Many thought this was a team that could continue to compete in the Eastern Conference, but so far this season, it has just been a mess. The Hornets as a team played terrific defense last year, being in the top 10 the whole year, but this year they just haven't been up to Coach Clifford's normal standard. Their offense, outside of throwing the ball down to Big Al in the post, is unreliable. So far Lance has had a tough time fitting in with the rest of the team, but Cody Zeller has shown remarkable strides as a rotation player. The Hornets have dropped all of their games against .500 and below teams, but seem to play tougher against better competition. Coming off of a loss last night to the Heat, both teams will be tired and looking for revenge.

The Subplots

  • Comparison of key metrics. So far this year the Hornets have been below average in almost every advanced metric, from offensive and defensive rating to pace; they just haven't been a good basketball team thus far. The Clippers will look to push the pace against the Hornets to get easy buckets and continue to improve on their top 5 offensive rating.
  • Sharing the ball. So far on this road trip the Clipper had two games where they shared the ball terrifically and the offense was clicking. Against the Grizzlies, the game predictably became a lot more difficult on the scoring side of the ball, but the Hornets have yet to show they are the same defensive team as last year. Against an inferior defensive team, let's see if the Clippers can get back to the fluid offensive game they started the trip off with.
  • J.J. Making Shots. J.J. Redick has seemingly been in a beginning of the season slump, having far too many 3-10 games than any of us would have predicted. The shots have been there for J.J., he's just simply been missing them. In the game against the Heat, Doc put J.J. back in despite the blow out in the fourth in order to try and get a rhythm going. J.J. seemed to continue that groove against the Grizzlies as he hit three three pointers with Tony Allen hounding him all game. If J.J. can start shooting accurately, it will greatly help the Clippers offense.
  • Big Al PhD. Zach Lowe has given Big Al the moniker of Dr. in the post because of his amazing ability to score on just about anyone in the league. Al has made a career out of calling for the ball in the low post and just simply being unstoppable with his vast array of footwork and moves, paired with a soft touch. His ability to demand a double team and score despite one is all the more impressive considering he hardly ever uses his left hand; Big Al has made the comment you could cut off his left hand and nothing would change for him on offense. Al will be an extremely tough cover for Jordan in the post, especially with Al's lethal pump fakes. However, Jordan has become much more disciplined at avoiding jumping at every fake an offensive player gives him, and has played pretty good post defense one=on-one thus far this year. Al will prove to be a great test for how far Jordan has come, especially after Marc Gasol took it to him yesterday.
  • Lance. The Hornets rolled the dice in free agency this summer by acquiring the 8th grader/crazy person Lance Stephenson. Many thought that Lance may be set for a breakout year after his arguable All Star year with the Pacers, while others had fears that Lance may show himself to be uncontrollable outside of the tutelage of Larry Bird. So far this year Lance has been nothing short of a disappointment. Shooting 38% from the field, 22% from deep, and 61% from the line won't make you a lot of friends in Charlotte. While Lance has done many of the other things a wing player must do, like rebound and defend, the Hornets badly need him to be an efficient scorer and playmaker and he has yet to show up.
  • Three point shooting splits. The Clippers have been shooting the deep ball pretty well so far on this road trip, upping their road percentages to about 40% from deep away from home this season. On the flip side, the Hornets have shot the three ball worse at home than on the road, shooting about 33% on their home floor. If the Clippers can continue to stay hot and drain thee pointers, they will have a good shot to win the game.
  • Connections. Chris Douglas-Roberts played for Charlotte last year and many of their fans were hoping that they could have brought him back again this year. Then there's the North Carolina thing -- Reggie Bullock went to UNC, while Chris Paul went to Wake Forest and J.J. Redick went to Duke -- Bullock and Paul played their high school ball in the Tarheel state as well. For the Hornets, Marvin Williams and rookie P.J. Hairston are Tarheel alums while Gerald Henderson is a former Blue Devil.
  • For the Hornet's perspective, head over to At The Hive
  • Wikipedia: Hornet the Clipper The Hornet was a famous extreme Clipper boat in 1851. It was most well known for it's race against the Flying Cloud in 1853 around Cape Horn, journeying from New York to San Francisco. The Hornet started with a two day advantage against the Flying Cloud, but still only managed to beat the Cloud by a mere 45 minutes arriving in the San Francisco Harbor, crossing over 15,000 miles. In May of 1866 the Hornet met a tragic ending by catching fire on the sea and sinking.