PREGAME REPORT | JANUARY 12, 2013
Tip-off: 12:30 p.m. | Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »
ERIC PATTEN Follow @ericpatten
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The Clippers put their franchise-record 13-game home winning streak on the line Saturday afternoon against the Orlando Magic.
In some respects it could be viewed as a so-called trap game for the Clippers (28-8), who enter the day tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the NBA’s best record and play at fourth-place Memphis on Monday. The Magic (12-23) have lost 10 in a row and are playing their third and final game of a West Coast swing. Still, the Clippers seem to know the importance of staying focused on the opponent most immediately in front of them.
“Before each game we realize what games are ‘trap games’ so to speak,” Blake Griffin said. “Really every game in the NBA could be a potential trap game. You never really have a night off, a night where you don’t have to try. For us, it’s really about bringing that high intensity and that high level night in and night out.”
The lesson may have come a little more than a month ago when the Clippers dropped a home game to the reeling New Orleans Hornets or even earlier in the year when they lost to Cleveland at Staples Center.
“Look at Orlando,” Griffin said as continued to talk about why you cannot take opponent’s lightly. “I think they’ve lost several in a row, but they’ve been in every single game. That’s a dangerous team. A team that plays hard like they do is not somebody that you can overlook.”
Magic forward Glen Davis (shoulder) will not play. Davis’ injury, which occurred in late December, has coincided with Orlando’s 10-game losing streak. Still, six of the Magic’s losses in that span are by four points or less and a seventh game went to overtime.
LAST TIME OUT
Clippers 99, Mavericks 93: Despite 21 turnovers and a double-digit deficit in the third quarter the Clippers found a way to extend their franchise-record 13-game winning streak at Staples Center. Chris Paul had much to do with it, putting together arguably his best game of the season. He scored 19 points with 16 assists, five rebounds and two steals. He opened the fourth quarter, scoring or assisting on four of the first five possessions for L.A. (Jamal Crawford nailed a runner on the fifth possession).
Griffin (15 points and 13 rebounds) helped close the game out with five points in the final three minutes and Crawford scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“It was a sloppy game for us the other day,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We’ve got to get back to guarding better and being more efficient. We’ve been turning the ball over way too much.”
Nuggets 108, Magic 105: The host Nuggets overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit sending Orlando to its 10th straight loss. Ty Lawson’s 3-point play with 1:27 gave Denver the lead for good, but it was the performance of Kenneth Faried that got Denver back in the game. He finished with 19 points and 19 rebounds and gathered a game-saving loose ball, sprawling on the floor to preserve a possession in the final minutes. The Magic earned their lead, in part, by sprinting out to a 30-point opening quarter, which included a pair of 3-pointers by J.J. Redick during a 9-0 run. Redick had 17 points off the bench and Jameer Nelson scored a team-high 20.
Jamal Crawford vs. J.J. Redick. Crawford and Redick are familiar with one another from Crawford’s two seasons in the Southeast Division as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Crawford, who scored 19 points in the deciding Game 6, helped the Hawks eliminate Redick’s Magic, four games to two, in 2011.
This season both Crawford and Redick are among the league’s top-scoring reserves and among their team’s most prolific scorers. Crawford (16.3 points per game) is third on the Clippers, while Redick (14.5 ppg) is fourth on the Magic. On Saturday they will likely be matched up across from one another when called from their respective benches (both are in the top five on their teams in minutes played).
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Grant Hill Game-Time Decision. There is a chance that veteran forward Grant Hill may make his Clippers debut Saturday. He practiced Monday for the first time since October and was at full-speed throughout the week.
“He’s been wanting to play for a while, but there’s a process in place for him,” Del Negro said. “We’ll see how he feels [Saturday] and it will be a game-time decision for him.”
Coincidentally, Hill's first game as a Clipper may come against the team he spent six seasons with from 2000-07.
Rebounding. The Clippers have not had nearly as much trouble on the boards as they did early in the season. After allowing 12.4 offensive rebounds per game (third worst in the league) through the first month, they have given up just 10.7 per game since. The emergence, and increased playing time, of Lamar Odom has seemingly been a direct result. Odom’s averaging 6.3 rebounds in the last 10 games despite just five in the last two games combined.
On Saturday, second-year big man Nikola Vucevic, who was acquired in this summer’s Dwight Howard trade, must be accounted for. He’s not necessarily the most imposing athlete, but in 35 games Vucevic has pulled down 10.9 boards per game, good for fifth in the league and has shown a knack for getting to the offensive glass (3.3).
Vucevic has 17 double-doubles this season compared to 14 for Griffin… Gustavo Ayon (thigh) and E’Twaun Moore (elbow) are also out for the Magic… Orlando will start two rookies (DeQuan Jones and Andrew Nicholson) as well as a second-year player (Vucevic)… The Clippers average 7.0 more points per game than Orlando… The Clippers are 30-4 at Staples Center since March 17, 2012, including a win as the “road” team against the Lakers… A win by the Clippers would be their first against Orlando at Staples Center since Dec. 3, 2006.
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