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Clippers look for season sweep of sad sack Pelicans

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The Clippers look to bounce back from Saturday's terrible loss in Memphis by earning themselves a win over the poor, poor Pelicans.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

2015-16 NBA Regular Season
vs
New Orleans Pelicans (25-43)

Los Angeles Clippers (43-25)
March 20, 2016 — 3:00 PM PT
Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, Louisiana
Prime Ticket, The Beast 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown ('15-'16)
25-43 Record 43-25
8-14 East 20-8
17-29 West 23-17
4-11 Division 7-5
17-16 Home 22-12
8-27 Road 21-13
8-29 .500+ 16-19
17-14 .500– 27-6
1-3 OT 4-1
2-8 L10 5-5
Projected Starters
Jrue Holiday PG Chris Paul
Toney Douglas SG J.J. Redick
Luke Babbitt SF Luc Mbah a Moute
Dante Cunningham PF Paul Pierce
Omer Asik C DeAndre Jordan
Efficiency Stats ('14-'15)
99.1 (9th) Pace 98.1 (14th)
103.3 (14th) OffRtg 106.4 (6th)
106.8 (26th) DefRtg 101.5 (7th)
-3.5 (26th) NetRtg 4.9 (5th)
Injury Report

Anthony Davis (knee/shoulder) Out for season

Ryan Anderson (Groin) Out

Norris Cole (back) Out

Alexis Ajinca (sternum) Probable

Tyreke Evans (knee) Out for season

Eric Gordon (finger) Out for season

Quincy Pondexter (knee) Out for season

Blake Griffin (hand) Out

Jeff Green (concussion) Out

What's new with the Clippers?

OK, so now can we say the Clippers miss Blake Griffin yet? They've now fallen a full four games back of Oklahoma City for the West's No. 3 seed after last night's horrifyingly bad loss against Memphis, and their odds of actually catching the Thunder seem to be on life support. Chris Paul just keeps chugging along, carrying the team on his back and showing no signs of slowing down. Here's hoping all the energy he's having to exert during the regular season won't come back to haunt this club come playoff time.

On the bright side, they seem to be in no real danger of dropping below the No. 4 spot. They're four games up on the Grizzlies, and, despite the big win on Saturday, it's hard to imagine this decrepit Grizz squad mounting a surge major enough to overtake LAC. These two seem destined to clash in the first round of the playoffs yet again.

What's new with the Pelicans?

While the Blake Griffin injury has been as big as any individual player injury this season, only the Wizards have lost more "man games" to injury on the year. Just today, they're already without Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter, with both Norris Cole and Alexis Ajinca listed as questionable. Think Alvin Gentry regrets leaving the Warriors for this?

What was supposed to be an exciting season for an up-and-coming team essentially went down in flames from the start. They began the season just 1-11 and haven't been able to overcome it. The Pels are 8.5 back of the West's final playoff spot, and describing their postseason hopes as "faint" would be generous. Tonight they'll be looking to avoid being swept in four games by the Clippers this season.

**Update**: The Pelicans announced prior to the game that they're going to go ahead and shut Anthony Davis down for the season. Depressing Pels season gets more depressing.

Matchup to watch

Chris Paul vs. Jrue Holiday

With Anthony Davis and just about every other Pelican on the shelf, Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson will be tasked with carrying New Orleans today. Despite all that's gone wrong with the Pels this season, Holiday has quietly enjoyed a solid individual season. So far in March, the Mission Hills native and UCLA product is averaging about 21 points and seven assists, though the team has gone just 2-8. He's a career 37% three-point shooter, though that number has dipped to just under 33% this season.

CP3, of course, will be making yet another return trip to the city he called home for the first six years of his pro career. In seven games in New Orleans with the Clippers, he's actually struggled quite a bit. Paul is shooting a paltry 33% from the floor and 18% from beyond-the-arc in The Big Easy with LAC, though he is still averaging a healthy 11 assists and nearly three steals.

This is a game the Clippers absolutely can't stand to lose after Saturday's debacle at the Grindhouse, so here's hoping we see an assertive Paul from the jump. If he's able to shake off whatever has gone wrong with him playing in New Orleans before, the Clips should come out of this one on top.

Battle of the benches

With Jeff Green questionable after getting crushed in the head by Zach Randolph last night, we all may be treated once again to another start for noted geriatric Paul Pierce. That would also likely extend the minutes for Wesley Johnson, Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, each of whom logged somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes in Memphis. On the bright side, none of J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan or Chris Paul played more than 33 minutes, so they should still be relatively fresh in spite of the back-to-back. We know the Clipper bench has had plenty of ups-and-downs this season, but at least they HAVE a bench.

The poor, injury-ravaged Pelicans are running incredibly thin these days. They'll be using their 34th different starting lineup of the season today, which seems impossible. Without Davis, Ryan Anderson would've slid into the starting five, but he's out of this game, too. Ajinca is likely to return from his fractured sternum today, but Norris Cole is out, as well. That leaves them with the fearsome reserve unit of Ajinca, Kendrick Perkins, Tim Frazier and Alonzo Gee. Perkins actually is fearsome from a "he may actually decapitate you on the court" perspective, but this is a group that clearly leaves much to be desired.

Even if the Clips are shorthanded themselves, Doc Rivers still has more usable depth at his disposal than Alvin Gentry does.

Game day song(s) of choice

New Orleans is known for many things, not the least of which is its wonderful music scene. I'm plenty on board with the name Pelicans, but it's also a travesty that the team in Utah is the one called the Jazz. If one of the current awful candidates for president would run on the platform that they'd change the New Orleans team name back to Jazz, they'd get my vote.

(OK, at least one of them still wouldn't get my vote, but you get the point)

He's not a jazz musician, but we'll still roll with Fats Domino in this space today, because he's from New Orleans, "Fats" is a hilariously appropriate name, and he just looks jolly.

Also, "Aint That a Shame" needs to be the theme song for this Pels season. They should play it when they announce the starting lineups and everything.

The Pelicans and Clippers get things going from Smoothie King Center in NOLA at 3pm PT.