Preview Clips, Blazers
Preview: Keys to Beat Clippers, Blazers

By Jace Darling, bobcats.com

January 1, 2014

KEY MATCHUP vs. CLIPPERS: Kemba Walker vs. Chris Paul

There are no two more important members to their respective teams than Kemba Walker and Chris Paul. Both point guards are the leaders of their teams and both are playing well in this young season. Walker was impressive during the month of December. He has averaged 21.8 points while scoring more then 20 points in eight of the 14 games played. During the month, Walker had six consecutive games in which he scored at least 20 points. During the span Walker has had two double-doubles (12/27 against the Bucks and 12/06 against the Sixers). In both games Walker tallied 10 assists to pair with his scoring. The month has also seen Walker shoot 46.6 percent from the floor (110-fo-236) and a very solid 44.4 percent from beyond-the-arc (28-for-63), and 80.3 percent from the stripe (57-for-71). Walker has had 35 games with three or more steals since the start of the 2012-13 season which is third in the NBA over that span. First on that list is Chris Paul with 42… This season Paul has moved up to 34th all-time in assists (5,802) and is second in the NBA with 25 double-doubles. Paul has assisted on 121 of Blake Griffin’s 253 field goals which is the most in the NBA to a single teammate. The Clippers are 11-3 on the season when Paul scores 20+ points, and he leads the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (4.59).

KEY MATCHUP vs. BLAZERS: Gerald Henderson vs. Wesley Matthews

Gerald Henderson has scored in double figures in 22 of his last 23 games and has only not reached double digits in three games this season. During the 23-game stretch, Henderson posted double figures in 19 consecutive games, while averaging 15.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists and shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 80.8 percent from the charity stripe (80-for-99). Thus far this season Henderson is shooting 42 percent from the floor (172-for-410) and 78.6 percent from the foul line (110-for-140) while averaging 32.9 minutes per game… Wesley Matthews is enjoying a career year though his first 30 games, with his 16.6 points and 4.3 rebounds marking career highs ... He is a career-best 80-for-180 (44.4 percent) from distance, and his percentage ranks fourth in the NBA among those who have attempted at least 100 three-pointers. Among NBA qualifiers, he is currently tied for 13th in 3-point percentage. Matthews is 173-for-346 (50.0 percent) overall from the floor, also a career best.

SCOUTING THE BOBCATS

The Bobcats have held their opponent under 100 points in 24 of their 31 games this season, which is tied for the most such games in the NBA… The Bobcats held 13 straight opponents under 100 points from Nov. 13-Dec. 6, which tied the second-longest streak in franchise history and tied the longest streak in the NBA this season, set by the Spurs from Nov. 5-29… This season due to injuries, the Bobcats have been on what seem to be an eternal search for a starting five. Every game presents a different matchup and therefore creates the need for a different starting five. So far on the season the Cats have sent five different starting lineups to the floor for the opening tip, with of course the forwards being the major difference. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is getting better each day and is working his way back to playing, until then the small forward spot will be by committee and Head Coach Steve Clifford will play whomever has the best matchup, given the opponents’ strengths and weaknesses… Nine of the Bobcats 14 victories this season have been decided by six points or fewer. The Bobcats have the most wins in the NBA in games decided by six points or less this season.

SCOUTING THE CLIPPERS

Since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, the Clippers have accumulated one of the best home records in the NBA. They are 13-2 at home this season, second best in the Western Conference behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (13-1)… The Clippers are fifth in the NBA in points per game, averaging 105.0 through 32 games. Their season high in points is 137 (Rockets on Nov. 4) and they are 14-1 when scoring at least 104 points (only loss on Dec. 26 at Portland, 116-112 in overtime). On the contrary, they are just 7-10 overall in games when they fail to reach at least that number… The Clippers have proven nearly unbeatable when they connect on a high volume of 3-point shots. Since the 2012-13 season, they own a record of 21-2 when making at least 11 3-pointers. They have done so in eight games this season, including making a season-high 15 3-pointers against the Rockets on Nov. 4. Coincidentally, one of the two losses for the Clippers in that span came when they hit a franchise-record 18 3-pointers against New Orleans on Nov. 26, 2012… Since the beginning of the 2011-12 season, the Clippers have accumulated one of the best home records in the NBA. They are 13-2 at home this season, second best in the Western Conference behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (13-1).

SCOUTING THE BLAZERS

Portland went 13-2 in the month of November, tying the franchise record for most wins in that month (1999-00, 13-3) and recording the second highest win percentage in November… Of the 15 Trail Blazers on the roster, six were selected by Portland in the NBA Draft, four were signed as free agents and five were picked up in trades ... Eleven played in college, three came to the NBA from playing overseas and one entered the league after high school ... Eight current Trail Blazers were on the team’s roster at the start of the 2012-13 season. Damian Lillard scored 25-plus points in three straight games (Dec. 17-21) for the first time in his career ... Lillard is one of three NBA players with three straight games of 29+ points and 5+ assists this season (Curry, Durant)... On Dec. 17 and 18, Lillard scored the third-highest point total of his career with 36 points, the first back-to-back 30-plus point nights of his career ... Lillard is the first player in the NBA to record 36 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and eight 3-pointers since Jason Kidd (April 11, 1995) ... Lillard became the fourth player in the last 15 seasons to hit the go-ahead shot with under two seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and/or OT in consecutive games (ESPN Stats and Info).

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