PREGAME REPORT | MARCH 10, 2013

 



Tipoff: 6:30 p.m. PST | STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »

                                                          

RAFAEL GUERRERO

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The Clippers (44-20) begin a three-game home stand Sunday night when they host the Detroit Pistons (23-41) at Staples Center.

Both teams come into Sunday night’s match up in a bit of a funk, with the Clippers having lost two of their last three games. They could not complete a comeback against the Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday and then dropped a game to the Denver Nuggets on the road in the second game of a back-to-back.

But things could be worse for the Clippers as the Pistons will likely attest. The upstart Pistons are coming off a tough home loss to the Dallas Mavericks and are in the middle of a tailspin, having lost seven of their last eight outings.

For the Clippers, they are intent of a avoiding a letdown against the Pistons as their next two home contests come against the Memphis Grizzlies and the New York Knicks, both playoff teams. The Grizzlies are one-hundredth of a percentage point ahead of the Clippers for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Jamal Crawford, who missed Thursday’s game in Denver, is a game-time decision with a sore left ankle.

LAST TIME OUT

Nuggets 107, Clippers 92. The teams were tied at 49 going into halftime, but the Nuggets outscored the Clippers, 36-26, in the third quarter and that proved to be the difference as they won their 12th consecutive home game.

Seven Nuggets scored in double figures, led by Western Conference Player of the Week Ty Lawson’s 21 points. Danilo Gallinari had 20 points with Wilson Chandler and Andre Miller adding 12 points apiece off the bench.

“We couldn’t control them in transition and turned it over a couple of times, compounded by some mistakes and they made some shots,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We kind of played into that; we got Blake [Griffin] going a little in the third quarter and then we started turning it over and they were out on the break getting threes and we were chasing the rest of the game.”

Matt Barnes led the Clippers with 19 points off the bench and Chris Paul added a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists. The loss snapped the Clippers five-game road winning streak and lost the season series to the Nuggets in the process, which could become important as a tiebreaker if the teams end up tied in the standings come season’s end.

The Clippers took a 60-59 lead in the third quarter but the Nuggets rallied off 20 of the next 24 points to take control of the game for good.

Mavericks 102, Pistons 99. Charlie Villanueva missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds and the Mavericks hung on to defeat the Pistons at the Palace in Auburn Hills.

O.J. Mayo led the Mavericks with 22 points on 7-for-15 shooting and 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. Dirk Nowitzki and Mike James each added 12 points and Brandan Wright had 14 points in 18 minutes off the bench.

Six players scored in double figures for the Pistons, led by Brandon Knight’s 21 points. Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell were a force inside, combining for 26 points and 23 rebounds.

The Pistons overcame a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter and took a 97-96 lead after a 3-pointer from Khris Middleton, who scored 14 points in 20 minutes off the bench. But Nowitzki made consecutive buckets to put the Mavericks up by three points with less than a minute to go in the game. Villanueva cut the deficit to 100-99 after he put back an air ball from Jose Calderon with six seconds left.

The Pistons fouled Darren Collison, who made both of his free throws to put the Mavericks back up by three and then Villanueva missed the game-tying shot from the left corner.

NOTEWORTHY MATCH UP

Chris Paul vs. Brandon Knight. Despite the loss in Denver, Paul recorded his 22nd double-double of the season to continue his stellar play in the last two weeks. In his last five games, Paul is averaging 19.2 points and 10 assists per game and became the first player this season to record 15 assists without a turnover when he accomplished the feat on March 1 in Cleveland.

Knight has had a solid sophomore season for the Pistons, upping his scoring from a year ago. His 14.1 points per game this season tops his 12.8 average from his rookie year and he is dishing out 4.2 assists a game, also an improvement from last year.

His scoring has picked up considerably since the Pistons acquired Jose Calderon from the Raptors in the Rudy Gay trade, giving him a chance to play off the ball at times. In the last five games with Calderon running the point, Knight is averaging 20 points per game and shooting 46.4% (39-for-84). He has scored 20-plus in three of those games and in double figures in four of the five games.

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

Sunday Block Party. Both teams come into Sunday’s game ranked in the top 15 in blocked shots. The Clippers rank seventh in the NBA at 5.88 blocks a game while the Pistons are 12th (5.37).

Andre Drummond, who has missed four weeks with a stress fracture in his lower back and will not play versus the Clippers, ranked 12th in the NBA averaging 1.67 blocks a game before his injury. Jason Maxiell is 17th in the league at 1.41 blocks a game and DeAndre Jordan ranks close behind in 20th with 1.36 swats per contest.

Doing The Dishes. Paul and Calderon each rank in the top 10 in the NBA in assists per game. Paul has dished out 495 assists in 52 games this season, ranking him second in the league at 9.5 dimes per game. Calderon is ninth in the league at 7.5 assists a game.

NOTES

The Clippers signed rookie guard Maalik Wayns to a 10-day contract on Saturday. He is expected to be available against the Pistons… Drummond (stress fracture in lower back) has missed 14 games for the Pistons since suffering the injury on Feb. 3 against the Lakers…The Clippers have won five of the last six match ups against the Pistons… Chauncey Billups is averaging 18.2 points per game in 14 outings against his former team.