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Preview: One Step Forward, Two Feet Backward

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The Phoenix Suns come to town bearing an injury report nearly as long as the Clippers’.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Clippers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Picture:

The Clippers will never be healthy again. Probably. At least, it feels that way. Austin Rivers returned to father Doc’s rotation only shortly before Lou Williams and Wes Johnson exited. Sore Lou is listed optimistically as probable for tonight’s game, but Wes is definitely out. It’s easier to write up the Clippers’ injury report thusly: Lots.

So we’ll keep watching who IS around. Like Milos Teodosic, who’s playing his way (back?) into shape but still asked to carry the late-game load. And DeAndre Jordan, who’s . . . there, I guess. And even with Austin back, rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell will get run with two-way grunts C.J. Williams and Jamil Wilson. It’s a patchwork group, but they play admirably. Doc seems genuinely proud of them. Catch them on the right night and the big picture looks OK. Against a Phoenix team that’s short on players AND expectations, it could be the right night.

The Antagonist:

The Suns are thinking about life without stars. Eric Bledsoe is gone, traded to the greener pastures of Milwaukee. Devin Booker is hurt. (I’m getting tired of typing PLAYER is hurt.) And so the team that wasn’t supposed to be good . . . isn’t very good. But it could be worse! Much worse, actually. Jay Triano replaced Earl Watson. Tyson Chandler is trying again. Greg Monroe is applying his circa-1990 game in a new town and the Suns have suddenly won two in a row. The team that Vegas projected to finish dead last in the West is looking down upon three other squads. Even more surprisingly, they don’t have to look up very far to see the Clippers. Don’t expect another 130-88 drubbing.

The Basics:

The Subplots:

  • The Schedule: The Clippers head to Houston on Friday for their first contest since 2011 AGAINST The Point God. How badly could it go? [Checks standings] The Rockets’ record is what??
  • Clippings: If you can bear more talk about the Clippers and shorthandedness, here’s the LA Times from yesterday . . . The Suns rode their bench to their latest victory . . . And that’s all I could find. Apparently, the Clippers and Suns aren’t interesting topics anymore.
  • For more on the Phoenix Suns, check out Bright Side of the Sun.