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Clippers-Pelicans Preview: L.A. looks to make it nine straight Ws

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Following Saturday afternoon's triumph over the Hornets, the Clips look to keep the streak going with the Pelicans coming to town on Sunday.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 NBA Regular Season
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@
New Orleans Pelicans (11-24)

Los Angeles Clippers (24-13)
January 10, 2016 — 12:30 PM PDT
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California
Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
11-24 Record 24-13
2-10 East 10-3
9-14 West 14-10
4-4 Division 4-3
7-9 Home 12-6
3-15 Road 12-7
4-17 .500+ 5-8
7-7 .500– 19-5
1-1 OT 1-0
4-10 L10 8-2
Projected Starters
Tyreke Evans PG Chris Paul
Eric Gordon SG J.J. Redick
Dante Cunningham SF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
Ryan Anderson PF Paul Pierce
Omer Asik C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('15-'16)
98.7 (T-12th) Pace 98.4 (14th)
101.9 (16th) OffRtg 105.6 (4th)
107.2 (29th) DefRtg 101.4 (11th)
-5.3 (26th) NetRtg 4.3 (5th)
Injury Report

Quincy Pondexter (knee) out

Anthony Davis (back) questionable


Blake Griffin (quad) out

What's new with the Clippers?

The Clips are rolling. LAC comes into this one on an NBA-high eight-game winning streak following Saturday afternoon's triumph over the Hornets. To make things more impressive, they've won the last seven with Blake Griffin out of the lineup. DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul and J.J. Redick and others have all stepped-up with Griffin sidelined, which is quite the positive development given how much the team struggled early in the season. It seems as though they've finally turned the corner, and should only be stronger once Griffin returns sometime in the next couple of weeks.

What's new with the Pelicans?

The Pelicans have been an injury-ravaged mess this season. They came into the year with big aspirations on the heels of last season's playoff showing, but nearly everything has gone wrong since. Although the club has gotten healthier in recent weeks, it hasn't translated to success. The only team with a worse record than New Orleans in the West is the Lakers, with the Pels currently sitting about four games behind the final playoff position. On the bright side, given how underwhelming the conference has been on the whole this year, they still have a mathematical shot of nabbing a postseason spot. They've just really given us no reason to believe they're going to be making that leap any time soon.

To make things worse, Anthony Davis left Friday's game against the Pacers with a back contusion, leaving his status in doubt for the Clipper game. He's officially listed as questionable (UPDATE: he's out). If he's unable to suit-up, New Orleans will be leaning heavily on the likes of Tyreke Evans and noted ex-Clipper Eric Gordon to supply the majority of their offensive production. In an ironic twist, Gordon has been one of two Pelicans to play in all 35 games so far this season. The other? The immortal Alonzo Gee. Gordon hasn't played in more than 64 games in a season since appearing in 78 as a rookie with LAC back in '08-'09. It's great to see him finally healthy again, but it's a shame that he's really been the only consistently-healthy Pelican so far this season.

Few teams (if any) have the kind of roster depth to capably deal with the type of injury crisis New Orleans has endured. They were projected as a bottom-tier playoff team in the West even with everyone fully fit, so it's not hard to see why they've struggled so much with a truncated squad. If Davis can't go, there's no reason to believe the Pels can stick with the Clippers, even without Blake Griffin. LAC and NOP have met twice already this season, with the Clippers having won both matchups.

Can the Pelicans stop J.J. Redick?

The Pels have been awful at many aspects of the game so far this season, not the least of which is defending the arc. New Orleans has allowed opponents to shoot over 38% from three-point range so far this season, which is the third-worst mark in the Association.

The Clips have many things going for them in this matchup, one of which is J.J. Redick. The NBA's second-best three-point marksman (by percentage) has torched the Pelicans in the two games so far, having drilled 7-of-10 tries from deep. J.J. was particularly proficient in the game on New Year's Eve, scoring a game-high 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the floor.

As a team, L.A. has awakened from their three-point shooting slumber during the current tear. Since the winning streak began on Christmas Day, the Clips are connecting on 39.8% of their triple tries, good for No. 5 in the league.. They're hitting an average of 10.8 three-pointers per game during that span, which ranks fourth. Without Griffin for all but one of these games, it makes sense that the Clips' offense has been more reliant on the three-ball. And it's paid off, big time.

Redick (who else?) has been at the center of the three-point shooting renaissance. In those eight games, J.J. has converted an absurd 57.4% of his long-balls while attempting about six of them per game. To say he's "on fire" would be an understatement. Redick IS the fire right now. Given his own hot streak and the Pelicans' aforementioned struggles with stopping shooters, L.A. should be looking to feed him throughout the afternoon.

This was largely the strategy when these teams met on December 31st. The Clips got off to a sluggish start (it was their fifth game in seven days), and Redick was hitting shots when the rest of the team looked flat. Considering this will be the second game of a back-to-back, and, weirdly, the second consecutive afternoon game, look for Redick to be an offensive catalyst once again.

Are the Clippers better without Blake Griffin?!

Absolutely not. Enough of that talk.

Game day song of choice

New Orleans has quite the rich music tradition. The fact that this team isn't the one called the Jazz anymore is pretty insane, really. Let's just go with the most New Orleans thing that comes to mind and roll with some Louis Armstrong:

The Clips and Pelicans get going from STAPLES Center at 12:30pm. Let's get that ninth straight win, shall we?