After sweeping a four-game road trip for the first time in franchise history, the Clippers return home to take on the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center on Wednesday night.
With the first two months of the season almost behind them, both teams find themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum. Los Angeles (18-6) has won its last 10 games in a row, the second longest streak in team history, while New Orleans (5-19) has dropped its last eight contests.
Yet since the Hornets have lost four of their last five games by seven points or fewer, the Clippers cannot afford to overlook them, especially since the scrappy Hornets won the first meeting between the two teams, 105-98, Nov. 26 at Staples.
“Even though they don’t have a very good record, they’re in every game,” Matt Barnes said. “We know we need to take them seriously and we’re looking forward to that payback [from the last game].”
LAST TIME OUT
Clippers 88, Pistons 76: The Clippers won their 10th consecutive game at the Palace of Auburn Hills with balanced offensive production. Chris Paul had 14 points and seven assists, while Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford both added 15 points. Lamar Odom grabbed 11 rebounds off the bench. Defense, however, allowed L.A. to pull away for good, as the team held the Pistons to just five points over the last 4:45 minutes of the game.
“We know if we control the defensive end then we are a hard team to stop on the offensive end,” Clippers forward Matt Barnes said.
Brandon Knight and Tayshaun Prince led Detroit with 16 and 15 points respectively.
Warriors 103, Hornets 96: The Hornets fell to Golden State on the road Tuesday night despite a game-high 28 points from Ryan Anderson and 15 points and a career-high 16 rebounds from Anthony Davis. The Warriors were led by David Lee’s 26 points and nine boards and Klay Thompson’s 19 points. Golden State has now won 17 of their first 25 games for just the fifth time in 45 years.
Chris Paul vs. Greivis Vasquez. In the teams’ last meeting, the third year Hornets point guard got the best of the matchup, as he was 5-for-8 from 3-point range, finishing with 25 points and 10 assists. Paul still finished with 20 points and eight assists on 9-for-14 shooting, and committed just three turnovers while Vasquez committed a career-high eight. Both point guards rank in the league’s top five in assists per game, as Paul is second in the NBA with 9.2 and Vasquez is fifth with 8.7.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Three-point Shooting. Known as a stretch forward, Ryan Anderson’s ability to both hit 3-pointers and post-up his defenders presents a conundrum for perimeter defenders. Last year’s NBA Most Improved Player, Anderson is averaging a career-high 18.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game and scored 17 points in the last meeting with the Clippers, including going 5-for-9 from 3-point range.
New Orleans went 15-for-25 (60.0%) from beyond the arc in that game, something Barnes said the Clippers were have to be more aware of.
“We feel like we have to close out a little better [than last time],” Barnes said. “We know they have a few good shooters out there, so we’ve got to make them put it on the floor and create plays for their teammates.”
Experience vs. Youth. Fans have come to know this season’s Clippers as a balance of youth and veterans, something Head Coach Vinny Del Negro has often cited. The Hornets, however, are currently rebuilding around a core of young players, including Rookies Anthony Davis (the No. 1 overall draft pick), who did not play due to a stress reaction in his ankle in the team’s first meeting, and guard Austin Rivers (No. 10 overall), who are both seeing big minutes on the floor.
Chris Paul has averaged 23.5 points and 10.0 assists per game against his former team…Paul and Anthony Davis were both members of Team USA which won gold at the 2012 London Olympic games…Clippers assistant coach Robert Pack is a New Orleans native who holds the all-time scoring record for Lawless High School in New Orleans, eventually playing for the Hornets in 2002-03 and serving as an assistant coach for the team during the 2009-10 season.