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Preview: Clippers Host Lakers, Seek to Extend Win Streak to Three

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The Clippers have won 19 of the last 21 match-ups between the Los Angeles franchises.

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers (7-11) return home after a five-game road trip to host the Los Angeles Lakers (8-11) at Staples Center on Monday. The Clippers snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Atlanta Hawks on November 22, and won Saturday’s contest in Sacramento against the Kings. With three starters still out due to injuries, can the Clippers extend their win streak?

THE GAME

When: Monday, November 27, 2017 — 7:30 p.m. (PT)

Where: STAPLES Center; Los Angeles, CA

TV: Fox Sports Prime Ticket

Radio: AM 570 L.A. Sports

PROBABLE STARTERS

Clippers: Wes Johnson, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers, Lou Williams

Lakers: Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Brook Lopez, Larry Nance Jr.

INJURIES

Clippers:

  • Milos Teodosic (Out, left foot plantar fascia injury)
  • Patrick Beverley (Out, right knee surgery)
  • Danilo Gallinari (Out, left glute strain)

Lakers: None

THE BIG PICTURE

The Clippers and the Lakers meet Monday for the second of four match-ups this regular season. The Clippers have dominated the crosstown rivalry in recent years, winning 19 of the last 21 contests (.950) between the two franchises since 2012-13. This represents the most wins by a team against any single opponent during that span.

The Clippers are just two games off a disappointing nine-game losing streak, during which they struggled on both ends of the floor. Injuries have played a significant role in the squad’s poor performance to date; starters Teodosic, Gallinari and Beverley have all missed multiple games this season, and will miss Monday’s contest as well. Notably, all three were available in the Clippers first game against the Lakers on October 19, which the Clippers won handily 108-92.

The recent loss of Beverley to a season-ending knee injury is particularly stinging for the Clippers, who otherwise lack an alpha-male leader on the team. Beverley’s defensive intensity will be certainly missed, as will his somewhat surprising offensive output (he averaged 12.2 points per game with the Clippers in 11 games this season). Beverley was particularly fun to watch when matched up against the Laker’s highly touted rookie point guard Ball. “Mr. 94 Feet” absolutely smothered the kid; the highlights are worth re-watching.

A rematch between the two point guards will be sorely missed.

Without Beverly or Teodosic on the floor, the Clippers have been inconsistent moving the ball. As a team, three-point shooting has not been great, allowing defenders to sag and double (or even triple) team Griffin. The All-Star power forward has still been able to put up double figures night after night; however the strain of having to work so hard for buckets has been evident, particularly at the end of games. Having “Sweet Lou” Williams on the floor helps tremendously – as illustrated by the Clippers last game against Sacramento where Griffin had 33 points, including the game winning shot. Williams’ shooting threat opens the floor and creates easier offensive opportunities for Griffin. Williams, who is expected to start Monday as he did against the Kings, is averaging an impressive 19 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting. I don’t foresee him slowing down anytime soon.

Wesley Johnson is another player expected to continue solid play as the season progresses. Johnson has been playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 7.8 points per game on 49.1 percent shooting; 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. Just as importantly, Johnson has been one of few bright spots for the Clippers on defense. He has been all over the floor disrupting opponents’ play with his quickness and length.

As a team, however, the Clippers defense has been a glaring weakness. They need to achieve consistency with intensity and rotations. When defense is clicking, everything else falls into play. In the moments where defense lapses, the Clippers’ offense also really struggles. It has not been uncommon this season for the Clippers to go 2-3 minutes in a quarter without a score, allowing lesser teams to hang around and pull off unlikely wins. The Clippers will need a strong defensive effort to keep the young Lakers at bay, particularly without Beverley to contain Ball’s play-making ability.

THE ANTAGONIST

The Lakers are, once again, one of the worst teams in the league. They are, much like the Clippers, simply too inconsistent.

For Monday’s match-up, the Lakers are expected to welcome back Larry Nance Jr. to the starting lineup. Nance hasn’t suited up for the Lakers since breaking his hand on November 2nd in Portland. He had averaged 10.6 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Lakers in 10 games played. Rookie Kyle Kuzma has been starting in Nance’s absence, and has been excellent. He has averaged 16.8 points a game, making him the Lakers’ leading scorer, and is second among rookies league-wide in scoring, behind Philadelphia 76ers’ phenom Ben Simmons. He has also contributed 6.3 rebounds per game and proven himself to mesh quite well with point guard Ball, who leads the Lakers in both rebounds (7.4) and assists (7.1) per game. It will be interesting to see what rotations Luke Walton utilizes now that Nance has returned, given Kuzma’s performance to date.

THE PREDICTION

The Clippers may be impacted by fatigue in this contest, having just returned from traveling across the country for these last two weeks. Additionally, they are still playing with short numbers and have yet to put together 48 minutes of consistent defensive effort this season. The Lakers, on the other hand, have a full roster at their disposal and are well rested. Ultimately, however, I think the Clippers are on an uptick, and will perform well on their home court. DeAndre Jordan is due to have a big game, look for him to be particularly dominant on the boards.

There is no chance the Lakers win this one.