PREGAME REPORT | JANUARY 21, 2013

 



Tip-off: 1:00 p.m. PST | Oracle Arena | Oakland, CA | Game Notes »

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ERIC PATTEN

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OAKLAND – Stare downs, permanent ink and long memories matter little to the Clippers when it comes matching up with the Golden State Warriors.

“I’m not really sure this side has said much, we’ve just gone out and played. They beat us twice so whatever they want to say they can say it,” Blake Griffin said when asked about a so-called chippiness between the Warriors and Clippers. “We’re not looking to get into newspaper clippings. We’re not focused on that; we couldn’t care less what they say about us. It’s a game. We’re going to go out and play. It’s going to mean a lot to us because it’s the next game on our schedule and that’s it.”

The underlying story Monday afternoon heading into the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Pacific Division’s top two teams comes on the heels of their previous two games. On Jan. 2, Golden State (24-15) raced out to an 11-point first-quarter advantage and poured it on late, handing the Clippers their worst loss of the season, 115-94. Three nights later, the Clippers (32-9) returned the favor, demolishing the Warriors at Staples Center in a game that they led by as many as 39 points in the third quarter.

That’s when Golden State head coach Mark Jackson apparently started taking mental notes. He called timeout after DeAndre Jordan’s third consecutive alley-oop with 4:27 left in the third and spent most of the stoppage in play staring in the direction of the Clippers’ bench.

“What you’ve got to do as a player or coach, soak it in and remember it. Mark it down with permanent ink,” Jackson said following Golden State’s 115-89 loss. “Nothing upset me. They earned the right to celebrate with the way they played. It was just a good, old-fashioned, heavyweight championship stare-down, that’s all.”

Warriors forward David Lee is questionable with a sprained left ankle. He sat out Saturday, but he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he expects to play against the Clippers.

LAST TIME OUT

Clippers 94, Wizards 87: The return of Chris Paul to the starting lineup after a three-game absence with a bruised right kneecap fueled the host Clippers to their fourth consecutive win. Paul had 22 points and 11 assists.

In some ways, though, it was not a seamless return. The Clippers shot 36.6% from the field, their worst shooting percentage in a home game this season, with Griffin, Paul and Jamal Crawford going a combined 14-for-47 (29.8%). But Paul and Griffin both made plays down the stretch and the Clippers held off Washington’s attempt to come back from a 12-point deficit in the final period.   

“Blake and Jamal didn’t make a lot of shots,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I thought he (Griffin) was very aggressive. He missed a few shots he usually makes, but that’s part of the game. Little things in games like this are key.”

Warriors 116, Hornets 112: Playing without Lee, but getting Stephen Curry (ankle/knee) back in the lineup, the Warriors won a wild game in New Orleans. Jarrett Jack scored 25 points, including seven in a row in the final 52 seconds, to lead Golden State. The former Hornet also had 12 assists and went 10-for-11 from the foul line. Curry had 20 for the Warriors, going 5-for-17, after missing the previous two games with a sprained ankle and hyper-extended knee. Hornets rookie Anthony Davis had arguably his best game of his young career, scoring 20 points with 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.

NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP

Chris Paul vs. Stephen Curry. Both players returned from minor injuries Saturday night and played a large role in their respective teams pulling out victories. Paul has owned the matchup over the last six quarters, but Curry’s last home game against the Clippers he scored 25 points in the first half, including making 10 of his first 11 shots with Paul guarding him. Overall, Paul is shooting a blistering 58% (62% from 3-point range) this season in 92 minutes when Curry is on the court with him.

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

Win the first quarter. The Clippers and Warriors own the league’s two best records when leading after the first period. The Clippers are 25-2 (.926) when ahead after the first 12 minutes, while Golden State is 18-2 (.900). It has held true in their previous three meetings this season, particularly in the last two where a fast start propelled each team to a comfortable margin. On Monday expect the first quarter to be perhaps the most telling segment of the game.

Foul line. In the first two meetings the Clippers combined to attempt 91 free throws, the message from Jackson was clear: we’re not going to let you get up and down the floor for easy baskets. That’s been the case for many opponents when dealing the Clippers. The Wizards and Timberwolves recently attempted to slow down the pace and cut down on the type of energetic plays at the rim that the Clippers have become known for. Jackson has also employed the intentional fouling strategy at times in past meetings, hacking DeAndre Jordan or Griffin away from the ball to put them at the line on purpose. He may be best served avoiding that with Griffin. He’s shooting 70% from the line in his last nine games and has made 21 of his 27 foul shots going back to the second quarter of the Jan. 5 meeting with Golden State.  

NOTES

The Warriors lead the season series, 2-1… Griffin has played on Martin Luther King Day twice in his career. He’s won both games, including pouring in a career-high 47 points against the Indiana Pacers in 2011… Several players will wear special edition sneakers for Monday’s game… The Clippers have a chance to take sole possession of the best record in the NBA. The Oklahoma City Thunder lost Sunday night to the Denver Nuggets, tying them with the Clippers at 32-9… A day after the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl, the Bay Area is still buzzing. 49ers flags are hanging from car windows, bellmen at the Clippers’ hotel are wearing 49ers caps, and banners and other signage are draped at various locations around San Francisco. 

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CHRIS PAUL BOBBLEHEAD GIVEAWAY
When: January 22 vs. Oklahoma City
The first 18,000 fans in attendance will receive a Chris Paul Bobblehead courtesy of State Farm