PREGAME REPORT | JANUARY 4, 2013

 



Tip-off: 7:30 PM | STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »

 

ERIC PATTEN

  JOIN LIVE CHAT STARTING AT TIP-OFF »

LOS ANGELES – The City of Los Angeles has seemingly been waiting all season for this: The Clippers and Lakers at near full strength, head-to-head in a game that could prove significant for both teams.

The Clippers (25-8) enter Friday’s so-called “Battle for L.A.” fresh off a 17-game winning streak, and riding another less desirable streak of two-straight losses. The Lakers (15-16) come into the Clippers’ designated home game still trying to find their way, despite the return of Steve Nash to a lineup that features five former All-Stars.

For the first-place Clippers, the game means getting back on track against a Pacific Division opponent that they would much prefer to distance themselves from. For the Lakers, Friday night means a chance to make-up ground in what has been an underwhelming 31-game start to the season.

Blake Griffin, who had 15 points and eight rebounds before fouling out in the final minute of the Clippers’ 105-95 win over the Lakers in November, said the Clippers need to get back to what was working during their perfect December.  

“This is a tough part of our schedule,” Griffin said. “We’ve got to be focused. We’ve got to be bring energy. We’ve got to do all the things we’ve been doing and making that our staple.”

At shoot-around Friday, Clippers supersub Matt Barnes, who played the previous two seasons with the Lakers, sounded excited to take on his former team. “It’s still January, no team is going to get excited over a win tonight, overall. But it’s always a big game when the Lakers play the Clippers.

“It’s going to be physical. It’s going to be chippy. The crowd is going to be crazy. It’s going to be a fun night tonight.”


LAST TIME OUT

Warriors 115, Clippers 94: The Warriors jumped out to a 28-6 lead in the opening minutes in front of a frenzied home crowd Wednesday and set the Clippers back to Los Angeles with their worst defeat of the season. Despite Golden State’s early advantage, the Clippers climbed to within four points on two occasions, but the Warriors had a pert response each time.

“We just kind of hit a little bit of a wall,” Griffin said of a Clippers team that shot a season-low 36.8%. “They completely outplayed us in almost every area. Shooting-wise they were unbelievable.”

Warriors guard Stephen Curry scored 25 of his 31 points in the first half, making nine of his first 10 shots. David Lee added 24 points and 13 rebounds. Jamal Crawford, playing with a gimpy left foot, managed a team-high 24 points off the bench and Chris Paul had 23 points and six assists.

76ers 103, Lakers 99: Philadelphia’s Jrue Holiday scored 26 points with 10 assists and seemingly got into the lane at will against the host Lakers. The loss and the performances of Holiday and third-year wing Evan Turner (22 points and 13 rebounds), prompted Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to call his team “old” and “slow” after the game. Bryant scored 36 points on 14-of-29 shooting, his 10th game of 30 points or more in the last 11 outings, but the Lakers were held to 39.4% shooting and fell down by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter.

NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP

Chris Paul vs. Steve Nash. Nash did not play in the first matchup, a 10-point win by the Clippers over the then-Mike Brown coached Lakers, but will be in the lineup this time around. The previous six games between the Lakers’ two-time MVP and Paul, the surefire MVP candidate, have been awash on the scoreboard with Nash and Paul each winning three times. However, Paul has dominated the individual matchup statistically (see chart below).

 

Wins

3

3

PPG

6.8

20.7

APG

10.0

9.7

TPG

4.8

1.2

FG%

30.0%

46.4%

3PT%

27.8%

40.0%

Paul, who has averaged 11.9 assists in 24 games against the Lakers, talked about what Nash means to the Lakers lineup at shoot-around. “He’s a two-time MVP and everybody’s (his teammates) a lot more comfortable,” Paul said. “He can shoot the ball, he can score, he can dribble, he can pass, he can do everything that you want. So obviously they’re a lot better team with him on the floor.”

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

The Pace. Both teams will try to force their own pace on the game. For the Clippers, their deadly transition attack will start defensively, an area which, according to Paul, has slipped over the last two games. “We haven’t defended the way we know we’re capable of,” Paul said. “We are fourth in field goal percentage defense now, we were [second] before those last two games, so we’ve got to get back to defending.”

The Clippers and Lakers are respectively fifth and sixth in the league in offensive efficiency with the Lakers using 96.8 possessions per game (third in the league). The Clippers, however, are third in the NBA in fast-break points at 17.6 per game, leading in points off turnovers 21.7.

Shot-Making. The Clippers shot season lows from the field in back-to-back games, culminating with a 36.8% effort at Golden State Wednesday. Their last two losses were a significant downturn from the previous week when they made 41.9% of their 3-pointers, including twice exceeding 11 makes from 3-point range.

“Over the course of an 82-game season, I hate to say it, but we’re going to miss some nights,” Paul said. “I hate it. I wish we could make them every night. But we get another chance tonight.”

NOTES

Caron Butler, who missed the Clippers previous game for personal reasons, is expected to play Friday… Lakers backup point guard Chris Duhon (back) is questionable and former Clippers guard Steve Blake (abdomen) is out… The Clippers are 6-2 in the last eight games they’ve scored more than 98 points against the Lakers… Paul’s 11.9 assists per game against the Lakers is the most by any player against a single team (minimum 20 games)… The Clippers are 4-6 in their last 10 games against the Lakers, which followed a nine-game losing streak in the series… Since 2010, Griffin has accumulated the third most double-doubles in the NBA (117), Lakers center Dwight Howard is first (127).

 

SINGLE GAME TICKETS
CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS »
SEND THE CLIPPERS TO THE 2013 NBA ALL-STAR GAME

 VOTE NOW »

TEXT "GRIFFIN" to 69622
TEXT "PAUL" to 69622

 

Text message and data rates may apply.