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Mini-Preview: Clippers Visit Struggling Wizards

The Clippers’ road trip continues with a stop in the Capitol.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In a Sunday matinee, the Clippers will face off against the Washington Wizards as the good guys travel to the last of three East Coast road contests.

The Clippers will continue to miss defensive stud Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who has been ruled out of the contest with a right AC strain (a shoulder injury). (NOTE, 2:09PM EST: Rowan Kavner reports that Luc will be back in the lineup tonight). The only other name on the injury report is Brice Johnson, who remains out with an acute herniated disc in his lower back. Austin Rivers is likely to continue to start in Mbah a Moute’s place. The Wizards will have their main lineup intact, but will be without a few fringe players (Jason Smith—TBD, strained right hamstring; Ian Mahinmi—TBD, sore right knee; Danuel House Jr.—OUT, right wrist fracture).

The Wizards’ standard starting lineup features John Wall and Bradley Beal, two high-scoring, exciting young guards. They’re accented by the athletic combination of Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris at the forward positions, while veteran Marcin Gortat anchors the team at center.

Some notes!

  • Brief Preview: Sorry for the brevity, folks. I’m getting ready to take my last final exam on Monday morning and fly back to California right after, so I’m a little scattered at the moment.
  • Record Watch: Blake Griffin is 11 points away from moving into 3rd on the Clippers’ all-time scoring list, passing Elton Brand. He’ll pass second-place Bob McAdoo in the coming weeks, but will need a new contract with L.A. this summer to catch Randy Smith for the all-time mark.
  • Austin Rivers: The dude has been insanely hot in the last few weeks, and somehow even a serious-looking concussion forcing him out of the lineup didn’t even break his streak. In the last four games, Austin’s averaging 16.7 points on 63% shooting from the field and 65% from deep. Since November 23rd, Austin is shooting 56.5% from deep. Obviously these levels of shooting aren’t sustainable for Austin (or any player!), but the Clippers should look to get as much out of this hot streak as they can.
  • Alan Anderson? The little-used veteran wing has gotten minutes lately due to sequential absences for Raymond Felton (family emergency), Rivers (concussion), and now Mbah a Moute (AC sprain). He hasn’t exactly balled out—but it’s only been a few minutes in a few games. If he can start to contribute, it’s just another weapon for the Clippers’ bench.
  • DeAndre at the stripe? OK—this is a wacky one. DJ, a career 42.8% free throw shooter, is currently at 54.3% on the season. He’s made at least two-thirds of his foul shots in the Clippers last four games (some with not so many attempts, but still, we’re talking about DJ here) including a 12-18 performance against the hacking Orlando Magic. The Clippers’ offensive rating is 112.9—meaning they score 1.129 points per possession on the year. At 42.8%, teams hack to allow the Clippers 0.856 points per possession. The 54.3% mark puts him at 1.086 points per possession—still less than the team’s normal offensive output, but probably enough to discourage hacking if he can keep it up.
  • Shooters! In this note in game previews early in the year, I noted how the Clippers’ shooters had started the year poorly and were bound to turn it around eventually. So far, some of them have: Raymond Felton (43.9%), J.J. Redick (42.8%) and Chris Paul (40.3%) were always looking alright. But recent surges by Austin Rivers (41.8%) and Mbah a Moute (42.5%) have added another dimension to the Clippers’ offense. The team would still like to see more shots fall for Jamal Crawford (33.3%), Marreese Speights (32.5%), and Wesley Johnson (30.0%).

Gameday Song of Choice: After this game, the Clippers are heading back to California. Tomorrow, so am I. I’ll see them at STAPLES on Tuesday. Here’s a song by a famous band that doesn’t capture my mood, but has a fitting title:

Here’s a hundred-year-old song that I’ve never heard of, sung by an old guy who I’ve never heard of, that has lyrics that describe my life:

And, for a special treat, here’s a cool song about California. On the far right, you can see the man who inspires the style, dancing, and lifestyle of Clips Nation editor Taylor C. Smith: