PREGAME REPORT | MARCH 27, 2013

 



Tipoff: 5:00 p.m. PST | New Orleans Arena | New Orleans, LA | Game Notes »

                                                          

RAFAEL GUERRERO

  JOIN LIVE CHAT STARTING AT TIP-OFF »

With just 11 games left in the regular season, the Los Angeles Clippers (48-23) cannot afford to lose many more games to teams with losing records.

The Clippers make their first trip of the season to New Orleans on Wednesday night, hours after suffering a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks in overtime. The loss dropped them to the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, 0.5 game back of Denver and 0.5 game up on Memphis. With games against the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets looming on the backend of their four-game road trip, it is imperative for the Clippers to come out of their game against the Hornets (25-46) with a victory.

However, “The Big Easy” has been anything but for the Clippers as they have lost nine consecutive games to the Hornets in New Orleans. They last beat the Hornets on the road on Jan. 8, 2007, but that came in Oklahoma City after the team temporarily relocated following Hurricane Katrina. The Clippers last win in New Orleans came on April 20, 2005.

The Clippers have lost 11 of their last 12 in New Orleans, including point guard Chris Paul’s first road game against his former team on March 22 of last year. He scored 16 points and dished out nine assists but the Clippers fell 97-90.

LAST TIME OUT

Mavericks 109, Clippers 102 (OT). O.J. Mayo tied the game with a left-handed layup with 0.6 seconds left in regulation and the Clippers offense stalled in the extra period, getting outscored 12-5. The Clippers went scoreless for more than three minutes in the overtime and the Mavericks took advantage.

Paul led the way for the Clippers with a season-high 33 points on 12-for-15 shooting despite playing with a sore left knee. He hit a sweeping layup around Shawn Marion to give the Clippers a 97-95 lead before Mayo tied the game with his own layup. Blake Griffin added 14 points and nine rebounds.

“We just need to keep playing hard,” Paul said. “We competed tonight, and that’s all you can ask. We competed. We just have to be more effective. Fortunately, we know we have a playoff spot but that does you no good if you’re not playing the right way. We played hard, and we’re going to keep building and keep working because we still have time.”

Dirk Nowitzki matched Paul with 33 points of his own, also a season-high, and scored the first eight Mavericks points in the overtime. The victory was the Mavericks first win over the top four teams in the Western Conference playoff race in 12 tries this season and pulled to within one game of the No. 8 seed.

Hornets 110, Nuggets 86. The Nuggets came into the game riding a 15-game winning streak but the scrappy Hornets put an end to that with extreme prejudice. They outscored the Nuggets 59-38 in the first half and held Denver to 37.9% shooting for the game. It was the Hornets third consecutive victory.

Seven players scored in double figures for the Hornets including all five starters. Ryan Anderson led the Hornets with 23 points and went 5-for-11 from beyond the arc. Rookie Brian Roberts had a breakout game in just his second career start. He had 11 assists by halftime and finished the game with 18 helpers, doubling his previous career high. He was three assists shy of tying the franchise record, which Paul set in November of 2007.

New Orleans routed the Nuggets without their starting backcourt of Eric Gordon and Greivis Vasquez.


NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP

Jamal Crawford vs. Ryan Anderson. It was nearly one month ago that Crawford started one of his most impressive stretches of the season when he scored 23 points at Indiana on Feb. 28. He went on to score 20-plus in four straight games before missing a two games with a sore left ankle. Since returning from that injury, Crawford has topped the 20-point mark only once.

His struggles continued on Tuesday when he managed just 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting in 34 minutes. In his last six games, Crawford is averaging just 12.3 points a game on 33.8% (23-for-68) shooting.

Anderson led the Hornets in scoring in their blowout victory against Denver and has topped 20 points in four of his last seven games. He is averaging 31 minutes a game this season and scoring 16.6 points a game, moving to within 0.1 points of Crawford for second in points per game off the bench.

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

Ignore the Standings. Both teams are on opposite ends of the Western Conference standings, but it’s the Hornets have momentum on their side going into Wednesday night’s match up. They have won three consecutive games, all against current playoff teams. They beat the Celtics, Grizzlies and Nuggets and held those three teams to an average of 85 points per game.

The Clippers have had a rough month, going 6-5 in March and 1-3 on the road with losses to Sacramento and Dallas, both non-playoff teams.

The 3-point line. The Clippers 3-point defense has been a point of emphasis all season for the team and it bears repeating for Wednesday night’s game.

The Hornets come into the game ranked ninth in the NBA in team 3-point percentage, hitting a collective 36.8% of their threes. Roger Mason Jr. leads the team this season, hitting 42.1% of his 3-pointers while Anderson remains a lethal threat from the outside as he is shooting 38.9% from beyond the arc. They made 15 3-pointers in their November 26 victory over the Clippers, a season high for a Clippers opponent.

NOTES

Vasquez and Gordon, who both missed the Hornets win against Denver with left ankle injuries, are listed as day-to-day… The two teams have split their first two meetings this season, both of them in Los Angeles. They will finish their season series on April 12 in New Orleans… The Hornets defeated the Clippers 105-98 in Los Angeles on Nov. 26. The Clippers then went on to set a franchise-record, winning 17-straight games… Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said he is hopeful Chauncey Billups, who missed the last three games with a strained right groin, will be able to play Wednesday…