After another slow performance to start the game, the Clippers roared back Tuesday night to beat the Denver Nuggets, despite a poor shooting tonight from both teams. Now, coming off their first back-to-back wins since Dec. 13, the Clippers will look to make it three wins in a row for the third time this season as they travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans.
The other two win streaks for Los Angeles ended after seven and four games apiece, respectively. And the Clippers, especially the younger iteration of this current team, seem to feed off momentum.
I make this following claim not to discredit the production of the vets — especially with the uncertainty surrounding Paul George’s injury, players such as Marcus Morris Sr, Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum, and Eric Bledsoe have notably and admirably stepped up in his absence — but rather to highlight the youngsters, who the team’s overall confidence and subsequent wins seem to depend more closely on, even more. It is not Morris, Jackson, Batum, or Serge Ibaka who have been deciding games, it’s been Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, and most recently, Amir Coffey.
Perhaps that statement is a testament to the reliability and professionalism of the vets as much as it is to the “Next Man Up” mentality that the youth have embodied. Regardless, we’ve seen an almost ironic shift, after the front office gathered significant media attention for allegedly shipping off its youth and future to capitalize on their “win-now” window, to a youthful culture on the team regardless of that. This next contest, however, will feature our protagonists facing off against some of the youngest legs in the league, in the New Orleans Pelicans. The eighth-oldest team in the league will battle against the eighth-youngest.
When: Thursday, January 13 at 5 p.m. PT
Where: Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA
How to watch/listen: Bally Sports SoCal, AM 570 ESPN
Opposing perspective: The Bird Writes
Projected Starting Lineups
Clippers: Reggie Jackson, Amir Coffey, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac
Pelicans: Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, Jonas Valančiūnas
Clippers: Paul George, Isaiah Hartenstein, Keon Johnson, Luke Kennard, Kawhi Leonard, Jason Preston, Justise Winslow — OUT
Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr., Zion Williamson— OUT
The Pelicans, despite posting a 25th ranked ranked offense and 24th ranked defense, are not to be taken lightly. They’re ranked third in rebounding percentage (including being ranked fourth and first in offensive and defensive rebounding, respectively), they’re ranked fifth in terms of assist percentage, and they’ve already beaten the Clippers twice this season. The Clippers, who often rely on capitalizing off their opponent’s mistakes, face a more conservative passing team in the Pelicans. And the Pelicans, who feast on the boards, may be able to take advantage of the rebounding deficiencies that have plagued the Clippers in their losses.
Still, with two exclamatory wins fresh in their memory, expect the Clippers to come out of the gates ready. Expect Ty Lue to have learned from the past two losses to cook up some new defensive schemes and strategies (and hopefully at least some semblance as to how to prevent Jonas Valančiūnas from going absolutely ballistic). And as always, expect the Clippers, whether they’re up by ten, down by 25, or anywhere in between, to never stop competing.