Gameday Report: Clippers, Lakers face off in season finale
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The Clippers (42-39) will end the regular season on Wednesday night in a matchup with their hometown rival, the Los Angeles Lakers (34-47).
Here’s what to look out for in Wednesday’s matchup:
Hometown “rivalry” renewed –
Rivalries usually consist of two teams with some connection, whether it be playing in the same city or each having a superstar player or another bond. More importantly, in a rivalry, each team is usually equally competitive.
In the case of the Clippers and Lakers, the two teams have the same city schtick down.
But the competitive part? Not so much, at least in recent years.
Dating back to the 2011-12 season, the Clippers have won 22 of the last 26 matchups between the two teams. In addition, the Clippers are currently on a six-game win streak against the Lakers, and the blue and red have won 17 of the last 18 against the purple and gold.
Wednesday will represent a home game for the Clippers, and the Lakers haven’t won a “road game” against the Clippers since, April 4, 2012, just over six years ago.
Over their past 26 matchups, the Clippers are outscoring the Lakers by an average of 13.2 points per game (110.9 – 97.7), and during the Clippers’ current six-game winning streak, the average margin between the two teams is 14.5 points per game (118.3 – 103.8).
Lastly, the Clippers will look for their fourth season sweep of the Lakers in seven seasons when the two teams take the court on Wednesday.
Rookie resurgence –
Clippers rookie guard Sindarius Thornwell has had an up and down season, mainly when it comes to minutes on the floor.
Thornwell quickly carved out a spot in the team’s rotation when injuries began to take a toll on the Clippers early in the season. In only his 11th NBA game, Thornwell earned his first start and in games 12 through 15, he played an average of nearly 31.0 minutes per game.
Thornwell’s minutes began to dip towards the middle of the season, but they once again spiked in February and March. On March 9 against Cleveland, he played a career-high 37 minutes and scored a then-career-high 14 points against the Cavaliers, while also guarding LeBron James for a majority of the game.
On Monday night against New Orleans, with guards Lou Williams and Austin Rivers sidelined with injuries, Thornwell put on a show, scoring a new career-high 20 points and dishing out 7 assists, also a career-best.
“One thing I love about him is that he makes mistakes because he’s young, but he plays hard,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “And he covers up for some of them with his hard play.”
Thornwell showed glimpse of his immense ability against the Pelicans, including a highlight-reel dunk in the fourth quarter over Pelicans forward DeAndre Liggins that even brought New Orleans forward Anthony Davis out of his seat.
Presumably, Thornwell will see significant minutes on Wednesday against the Lakers, who boast a few strong rookies as well, in what should be a glimpse into the future for both teams.
Wednesday’s game will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. PDT.