Preview: Charlotte At L.A. Clippers
When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, January 9, 2016
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles Clippers have not lost since Blake Griffin went down with a quad injury and continue to thrive behind their veteran stars. The Charlotte Hornets, who visit the Clippers on Saturday afternoon, have yet to win in 2016 and are losers of five straight.
Los Angeles has won seven straight games – the last six coming without Griffin in the lineup – and is getting strong contributions from the likes of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce. “We know this isn’t truly our team,” Paul told reporters. “Blake is our go-to guy we try to find all the time. What it can do is prepare us for games Blake might get into foul trouble. And what it does right now is it gives other guys confidence, so when Blake does come back, guys still have a rhythm.” The Hornets are missing a big piece in the middle with center Al Jefferson (knee surgery) out and are having trouble stopping people with an average of 111.4 points allowed during the five-game slide. Charlotte fell at Golden State to begin the four-game West Coast swing and allowed the Phoenix Suns to bury 19 3-pointers in a 111-102 setback on Wednesday.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE HORNETS (17-18): Charlotte’s latest slide began with a 122-117 home loss to the Clippers on Dec. 30, in which Los Angeles buried 15-of-30 from 3-point range, and the perimeter defense has not gotten much better. The Warriors knocked down 15 from beyond the arc against that defense on Monday before Phoenix caught fire at 19-of-33 from beyond the arc. “Our energy is fine, but we don’t think about defense,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told reporters. “We don’t think about defense to start the game. We think about scoring. I don’t care if it’s the NBA or not, you’re not going to play with the effort they’re giving defensively. You can’t get rung up the way we did like (against the Suns).”
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (23-13): Redick went 5-of-6 from 3-point range in that Dec. 30 meeting and is averaging 22 points over the last four games. Pierce, who has taken over Griffin’s spot in the starting lineup, got a rest on Saturday after playing both ends of a back-to-back last week and looked plenty refreshed on Wednesday while going 5-of-6 from beyond the arc in a 109-98 win at Portland. “We’re just doing a good job of feeding the pig, as (coach Doc Rivers) likes to say,” Redick told reporters. “I think the thing we’re beginning to understand better as a team collectively is just if a play is called for you, it doesn’t mean it’s your shot. It’s your responsibility on that play to make sure the team gets a good shot.”
1. Paul handed out 19 assists on Wednesday and is averaging 14 in the last four games.
2. Charlotte G Nicolas Batum (toe) sat out the last three contests and is questionable for Saturday.
3. Los Angeles G Austin Rivers is averaging 21 points on 18-of-26 shooting in the last two games.
PREDICTION: Clippers 115, Hornets 101