HORNETS VS. CLIPPERS
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com, @Jim_Eichenhofer
November 9, 2010
Two Western Conference teams whose seasons began in completely opposite fashions meet for the first time in 2010-11. The Clippers dropped their first four games, before upsetting Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Since then, theyve lost back-to-back road games at Denver and Utah, falling to 1-6 The slow start occurred despite the excellent contributions of rookie power forward Blake Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. Los Angeles opened the season with defeats against Portland, Golden State, Dallas and San Antonio.
Meanwhile, the Hornets began the 2010-11 campaign with a franchise-best 6-0 start, highlighted by an Oct. 30 victory at San Antonio and Fridays win over Miami. New Orleans continued a trend in recent seasons of often starting quickly the Hornets went 4-0 to start the 2006-07 and 2007-08, then were 3-0 to open 2008-09.
The Hornets have also enjoyed uncanny success against the Clippers over the past several seasons, taking a 13-game head-to-head winning streak vs. Los Angeles into Tuesdays meeting. The Clippers have not beaten the Hornets since Jan. 8, 2007, a game that was missed by both Chris Paul and David West due to injury. New Orleans swept four games from Los Angeles last season, winning by an average margin of 14.5 points, prevailing each time by at least eight.
The Clippers have several notable Hornets connections on their roster, including point guard Baron Davis, who was New Orleans best player when the franchise moved to the Big Easy in 2002-03. Clippers sharpshooter Rasual Butler played four seasons with the Hornets, including making 74 starts for the 2008-09 squad, New Orleans most recent postseason qualifier.
Power forward, David West vs. Blake Griffin
Despite being in the first month of his NBA career, Griffin has already established himself as a physically dominant power forward, drawing comparisons in style of play to past All-Stars such as Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. West and the Hornets frontcourt will focus on trying to keep the 6-foot-10, 251-pounder from grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring on putbacks and dunks. Through the first week of the season, Griffin was tied for the NBA league lead in offensive rebounds.
HORNETS.COM SCOUTING REPORT - Los Angeles
A closer look at the 1-6 Los Angeles Clippers:
One of the NBAs rising stars, shooting guard Eric Gordon receives accolades from coaches around the league for his one-on-one defensive prowess and scoring ability. The former lottery pick and Indiana University star gained significantly more recognition this summer, when he made the USA Basketball team roster and helped the American team capture the FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
Former Hornets All-Star guard Baron Davis signed with the Clippers as a free agent prior to the 2008-09 season, with the hopes of helping transform his hometown team into a playoff contender. While Davis has produced several individual highlights and game-winning plays, the Clips have gone 19-63 and 29-53 over the past two seasons. The sturdy, 6-foot-3, 215-pounder began the current campaign cold from the perimeter, shooting 32 percent from the field during Los Angeles winless streak. Davis is a high-volume scorer who loves to launch three-pointers but is also strong enough to post up smaller guards in the paint. The UCLA product has sat out each of the past four games due to swelling in his left knee and is not expected to return to action until Nov. 12 at the earliest.
Backup point guard Randy Foye is playing for his third different team over the past three seasons. A former lottery pick and Villanova standout, Foye began his career with the Timberwolves, then spent last season with the Wizards. Foye is an offensive-minded player who excels at penetrating to the basket. Like Davis, hes been out recently with an injury, in his case a strained left hamstring.
Frequently overshadowed during his one college season at Kentucky due to the superstar exploits of Wildcats teammate John Wall, speedy Clippers rookie Eric Bledsoe is trying to carve out a permanent role in the L.A. rotation. Walls presence forced Bledsoe to often play shooting guard at UK, but at 6-foot-1 hell have to play point guard in the pros. Bledsoe has replaced Davis in the starting lineup over the past four games and fared well, including a 12-point, 13-assist performance at Denver.
After being selected as the top pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, Blake Griffin was supposed to make his NBA debut a year ago, but he sustained a season-ending injury during a preseason home game vs. the Hornets. After sitting out last season, Griffin is considered a top candidate to win the 2010-11 Rookie of the Year award, with his primary competition likely being Washington Wizards point guard John Wall, the No. 1 pick of the most recent NBA Draft. Griffin possesses virtually all of the skills any coach would love to see in their power forward: hes athletic, strong, can make mid-range shots and appears to have a veterans understanding of the game.
Acquired in free agency this summer, Ryan Gomes is a no-frills, steady small forward who provides contributions in several areas, including long-range shooting.
Rasual Butler averaged a career-best 11.9 points per game with the Clippers last season, after posting a previous high average of 11.2 points as a member of the Hornets in 2008-09. Butlers top skill is his three-point shooting. In the last of his four seasons with New Orleans, the swingman connected on 39.0 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Rookie first-round pick Al-Farouq Aminu led Wake Forest to the NCAA Tournament this spring, where the Demon Deacons defeated Texas during the opening round, in a game played here in the New Orleans Arena. The 6-foot-9 Aminu is athletic and skilled, a small forward the Clippers hope can progress into a key contributor.
Nicknamed Rhino when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves a reference to his linebacker-like, 6-foot-7, 265-pound frame Craig Smith is an adept mid-range shooter and rebounder.
Chris Kaman made his first All-Star appearance last season in Dallas, emerging as one of the best young big men in the NBA. Kaman was so unheralded entering 2009-10 that his name did not appear among the 12 Western Conference centers on the All-Star ballot, but a strong performance led to his appearance at Cowboys Stadium. Kaman possesses a traditional, back-to-the-basket low-post game. Despite being a natural right-hander (he shoots all of his free throws that way, for example), Kaman tends to use his left hand around the basket on layups and dunks.
One of the leagues most personable players, DeAndre Jordan has developed into a helpful backup center. At 6-foot-11, 265 pounds, the third-year pro is an intimidating presence under the basket, but hes also unusually athletic for a player of his size, enabling him to regularly produce highlight-reel dunks off alley oops and offensive boards.
blog comments powered by Disqus