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Clippers vs. Hornets Preview: After the Wake-Up Call

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Did the Suns shake the Clippers from their quick slumber?

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Game Information

Where: STAPLES Center

When: 7:30 PM PT

How to Watch: Fox Sports Prime Ticket, NBA TV, AM 570

Projected Starting Lineups

Clippers: Patrick BeverleyLandry ShametKawhi LeonardPatrick PattersonIvica Zubac

Hornets: Terry RozierDwayne BaconMiles BridgesPJ WashingtonCody Zeller

Injuries

Clippers: OUT: Paul George (shoulder), Rodney McGruder (ankle), Amir Coffey (ankle)

Hornets: OUT: Nicolas Batum (finger)

The Big Picture

Saturday’s loss in Phoenix was a disappointment, no matter which way you slice it. However, the root cause(s) for that underwhelming performance is more subjective. Was it merely a reminder that much of this roster was assembled in this calendar year, and that consistent defensive cohesion often requires slow cooking? Or was it the result of a Clippers team high on the praise of its dominant first games?

This writer thinks it’s probably a bit of both. The tenor of Clippers-related national NBA coverage after two games was something akin to, hey, these Clippers are better than we thought faster than we thought. It’s EARLY. The team has played 2.43xxxxxx% of the season. They still need to learn one another.

But also, yikes. Playing pop psychologist — not to be confused with Coach Pop psychologist — is fraught, but it sure seems like this team got at least a little caught up in itself. Like, hey, we’re better than we thought faster than we thought.

In either case, chances are good that Saturday’s loss will eventually be revealed to be an aberration. And so that I don’t get accused of lingering in the past, the Clippers have the opportunity to effect that revelation very quickly, because...

The Antagonist

Sucks. Let’s not dance around this, shall we. The Hornets look bad.

There were franchises with worse summers. (Probably. Knicks, cough.) There are franchises who will win fewer games this season. (Probably. Knicks again, cough cough cough hack.) But few franchises continue to inspire as little interest as Michael Jordan’s. The other day, I looked up how to unstick a car from mud and the first answer was to trade Kemba Walker before he leaves in free agency. (OK, that wasn’t the first answer but it should’ve been.) The Hornets should change their logo to a spinning wheel.

There are professional players here, they’re just stuck in roles a level (or three) above their respective talent levels. I think we’ve all laughed about Terry Rozier’s contract. Did you know that Bismack Biyombo is still around? Marvin Williams too. Nic Batum would be but he just broke his finger. (In a game the Hornets won!)

So I’m not saying the Clippers will win. I’m just saying the Clippers absolutely should.

Notes

  • Fun with early season numbers: Quick, without looking, who leads Charlotte in scoring? Nope. Nuh uh. Wrong again. Wow, three guesses and you’re still wrong. It’s Devonte Graham. Yeah, I didn’t get that either. Cody Zeller is second. If the Clippers give up a buck-thirty again, ring the alarm bells, and ring them all.
  • Fun with early season numbers, part two: Quick, without looking, who leads the Clippers in rebounding? Did you guess the Board Man? Or Montrezl Harrell? Or maybe a guy who’s over the height of say, 6’2”? Cause if you did, you’re wrong again. Of course it’s Pat Beverley.
  • Who thought Malik Monk was going to be good? (Raises hand sheepishly.) He’s averaging 2.3 points over Charlotte’s first three games. On 27% shooting. OVERALL. No, I didn’t mistype those.