PREGAME REPORT | MARCH 20, 2013
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. PST | STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »
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One step forward and another one back. That’s been the story for the Los Angeles Clippers (46-22) lately as they are coming off one of their more disappointing losses of the season and have fallen to the lower half of the Western Conference playoff picture for the first time all season.
As they get set to host the Philadelphia 76ers (26-40) on Wednesday night in the second game of a back-to-back, the Clippers head into Staples Center having dropped four of their last seven games after getting outscored by 20 in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game at Sacramento. Just a few days after regaining the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, the Clippers now find themselves looking up at the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies in the standings.
While technically still the No. 4 seed due to leading the Pacific Division, the Clippers are 0.5 back of Denver and are percentage points behind Memphis and would not have home court advantage against No. 5 Denver if the playoffs started today.
As for the 76ers, they have played very well in the last week, winning three of their last four games with their only loss coming at the hands of the white-hot Miami Heat, who are in the midst of a 23-game winning streak, the second longest in NBA history.
LAST TIME OUT
Kings 116, Clippers 101. The Clippers let an eight-point, fourth-quarter lead slip away as the host Kings unleashed a 3-point barrage in the final minutes to turn a tie game into a blowout. It was the Kings first victory over the Clippers since Feb. 28, 2011.
The Kings outscored the Clippers, 38-18, in the fourth quarter and were led by Toney Douglas who scored 17 of his 19 points in the final period. The Clippers were still in striking distance, trailing 98-96 when Douglas caught fire from beyond the arc, hitting three straight 3-pointers to put the Kings up by double figures for good.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 26 points on an efficient 11-for-14 shooting and Jamal Crawford scored 25 points in 35 minutes off the bench.
76ers 101, Trail Blazers 100. The 76ers led by as many as 14 points but gave it all back late in the game as the Trail Blazers took the lead late in the fourth quarter. The 76ers responded and took a 101-97 lead into the final minute before rookie-of-the-year candidate Damian Lillard drained a 3-pointer to cut the 76ers lead to one.
Philadelphia then turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, giving the Blazers a chance to win it with 7.1 seconds left. LaMarcus Aldridge, who led all players with 32 points and 14 rebounds, missed a turnaround jumper over Spencer Hawes and the 76ers escaped with the victory.
Jrue Holiday led the team with 27 points on 11-for-21 shooting and Thaddeus Young added 19 points. Hawes finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Chris Paul vs. Jrue Holiday. In order for the Clippers to bounce back from Tuesday’s disappointing loss, they’ll need a bounce-back game from their point guard. Paul was just 2-for-10 from the field en route to 11 points in 43 minutes of action. He dished out 15 assists to record his 23rd double-double of the season but also committed seven turnovers.
Holiday has scored 20-plus points in his last three games but has historically struggled when facing Paul. He is shooting just 33.3% and averaging 10.5 points in the four games the two have squared off as starters.
Holiday will also be looking to improve on his performance from the last time the two teams met. He was just 4-for-14 and scored 10 points as the Clippers dominated the 76ers, 107-90, in Philadelphia on Feb. 11. Paul, in contrast, was outstanding with 21 points and 11 assists in just 24 minutes. He is averaging 21.3 points and shooting 57.4% in four match ups with Holiday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Who’ll Stop the Rain? In their 22 losses combined this season, the Clippers have allowed their opponents to shoot 47% from beyond the arc and Tuesday was no exception. They allowed the Kings, a team that shoots 36.9% from 3-point land this season, to connect on 14-of-28 shots from distance.
The 76ers are not exactly sharpshooters, ranking 14th in the NBA in 3-point percentage coming into Wednesday night’s game. They have just one player; Jeremy Pargo, who is hitting more than 40% from beyond the arc amongst players averaging 15 minutes per game or more.
Chauncey Billups is listed as questionable with a right groin injury he suffered in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game… The 76ers learned this week that Andrew Bynum, the former Lakers center who they acquired via trade during the offseason and has yet to play a game for Philadelphia, will undergo arthroscopic surgery on both knees and will be out for the remainder of the season… The 76ers have lost 13 consecutive games on the road, their longest skid away from Philadelphia since they dropped 20 straight in the 1987-88 season… Jamal Crawford scored 25 points in Tuesday night’s loss, the first time he has topped the 20-point plateau since March 6 against Milwaukee (he missed two games due to a sore left ankle)… It is Crawford’s birthday Wednesday…