PREGAME REPORT | FEBRUARY 26, 2013

 



Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. PST | STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »

                       

ERIC PATTEN

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LOS ANGELES – For the better part of three weeks Chris Paul has been adamant the Clippers goal over the final stretch of the season is to “pile up wins.”

He said it after practice Monday and again after Tuesday’s shoot-around as the Clippers were preparing to take on the Charlotte Bobcats at Staples Center.

“We’ve just got to keep building,” Chris Paul said. “I think that’s what most teams are trying to do, just build until they can kind of get that thing on cruise control. We’re not at that point yet. Once you’ve sort of grown that full identity and built that trust a lot of teams can put it on cruise control but we can’t do that yet.”

The Clippers (40-18) will continue to build the chemistry that Paul alluded to on Tuesday against a Bobcats team, who at 13-43 owns the worst record in the league. Still, the teams’ position in the standings is not something Caron Butler is worried about, especially knowing the Clippers have already dropped home games to New Orleans, Orlando and Cleveland this season.

"It's not easy. It's a scary ball club," Butler said Friday. "They come in with the attitude and tenacity of really wanting to get a win over a contender and a quality team. Those are the teams you have to be really scared of."

Charlotte comes into L.A. for game one of a four-game swing through the Western Conference. The Clippers will be without star reserve Jamal Crawford because his fiancé had a baby girl Tuesday.

LAST TIME OUT

Clippers 107, Jazz 94: The Clippers reached their 40th win faster than at any point in franchise history behind a dominant third quarter. They outscored the Jazz 36-20 overall in the period, after coming out of halftime with a 14-0 run. Blake Griffin scored 12 of his 18 points in the third and the Clippers led by as many as 21. It was the fifth time in the last six games the Clippers scored more than 100 points and won by double digits.

“I was pleased with the way we played,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We had some fight. We had some passion. We had some enthusiasm. We had some fire under our belt to play well.”

Butler scored a team-high 21 points, DeAndre Jordan had 12 rebounds and Lamar Odom scored a season-high 18 points on 8-for-15 shooting.

Nuggets 113, Bobcats 99: Denver snapped a four-game road losing streak by breaking open the game in the fourth quarter. Ty Lawson scored nine of his 20 points in the period and JaVale McGee had seven dunks on his way to 17 points. The Bobcats lost their third in a row and 11th in their last 13. Kemba Walker had a game-high 24 points to go with five assists, but Charlotte committed 18 turnovers, leading to 23 points for the high-flying Nuggets.

NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP

Chris Paul vs. Kemba Walker. Fresh off his first All-Star Game MVP Chris Paul and dominance of the Lakers on Valentine’s Day (24 points and 13 assists), Paul has struggled shooting the ball in his last two games. He’s 3-for-14 and has just 15 points combined in a loss to the Spurs and Saturday’s win over the Jazz. Still, he is primed for a matchup with Walker, who has scored 20 points or more in four consecutive games.

“He’s quick, crafty, can score and the thing that I’ve always loved about Kemba is he’s a winner,” Paul said. “Regardless of their record or whatever, he’s one of the guys who is always going to go out and play hard. He wants to win. Unfortunately, they’re in a situation where they’re not winning and stuff like that. One thing I know about Kemba, he doesn’t care. He’s going to go out each night and play his hardest.”

In their first meeting of the season, a 100-94 win for the Clippers in Charlotte, Paul and Walker played nearly to a draw. The Clippers’ superstar had 19 points and 10 assists playing in his home state, while his second-year counterpart went for 17 points and six assists.

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

Avoiding a letdown. The Clippers have lost just six home games all season with three of them coming against teams that are currently near the bottom their respective conferences. Griffin said you have to prepare for teams the same no matter where they rank comparatively.

“It’s the NBA so you kind of never know,” Griffin said. “They’re capable of winning games. They’re capable of playing well. They played us well when we played them there. We’ve got to come out and concentrate on us and let the game take care of itself.”

Charlotte has lost 10 games since Jan. 30, including four losses by 20 points or more.

The benches. The Clippers bench will be depleted without Crawford, who is second in the NBA in scoring as a reserve (16.7 points per game). Charlotte has the fifth leading scorer off the bench in guard Ramon Sessions and as a group the Bobcats are third in the NBA in bench points behind the Clippers and Mavericks.

One player the Clippers may have to worry about is rookie sharpshooter Jeffrey Taylor. He scored 18 points on Saturday and had a stretch of three-straight games in double figures with at least two 3-pointers earlier in February.

NOTES

The Clippers have won four in a row against the Bobcats, including their six-point win in December… They are 11-5 all-time in the series with Charlotte… It is the first matchup between the teams in Los Angeles since Jan. 29, 2011… The Clippers are 3-0 in games Crawford has missed this season… Griffin has had at least 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists in six straight games, matching the second longest such streak in the NBA this season... The Bobcats are 4-33 when an opponent scores 100 points or more.