The Clippers are having a bad time.
Last night, an over-performing LAC squad decimated by injuries managed to claw their way to a close game down the stretch against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, only to fall by a narrow margin in overtime.
It was the 7th straight loss for the Clippers, and all but one of those has been by single digits. This overtime loss, extending the Clippers’ longest losing streak since 2011, may have been enough to discourage a team that has shown resiliency despite missing three starters and suffering repeated losses during the last two weeks. Following it up with a flight and the second game of a road back-to-back? It seems like a recipe for a brutal blowout.
Fortunately for the Clippers, they aren’t taking on the best that the Eastern Conference has to offer. The Charlotte Hornets boast a 5-9 record identical to that of their struggling visitors, they carry a 6-game losing streak second only to the Clippers’, and they’re fresh off of blowing a fourth quarter lead last night to the miserably bad Chicago Bulls despite a 47-point outing from point guard Kemba Walker.
One key development to watch leading up to gametime: Kemba is listed as questionable tonight with a wrist injury. Walker leads the Hornets with 23.4 points and 6.5 assists per game, and without him their offense would turn heavily to secondary scorers like Jeremy Lamb, Nicolas Batum, Dwight Howard, and Frank Kaminsky. Charlotte would be forced to increase minutes to Malik Monk and Michael Carter-Williams, significantly leveling the playing field against a makeshift Clippers backcourt.
The Clippers will likely still be without all three of their perimeter starters tonight, as Patrick Beverley is listed as doubtful and both Milos Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari remain out. In their stead, the Clippers have started Austin Rivers, Sindarius Thornwell, and Wesley Johnson alongside mainstays Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, leading to increased opportunities off of the bench for Jawun Evans, Lou Williams, and Sam Dekker. Little-used big man Montrezl Harrell also shined in backup minutes for the Clippers last night, but it’s likely that Doc Rivers will go back to Willie Reed as the backup center tonight against Charlotte’s towering front line.
The game is at 4:00 PM Pacific time.