PREGAME REPORT | MARCH 1, 2013
Tipoff: 4:30 p.m. PST | Quicken Loans Arena | Cleveland, OH | Game Notes »
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The Clippers are getting ready to play seven of their next nine games at the friendly confines of Staples Center, but first they have to complete their brief two-game road trip in the Midwest when they face the upstart Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
The Clippers (42-18) have won seven of their last eight games including three straight after a disappointing loss in their first game after the All-Star break. Their offense has been explosive during that stretch as they have topped the century mark in six of the seven wins, the lone exception coming Thursday night when they scored 99 at Indiana.
The Cavaliers (20-38) have won four of their last five games with their only loss coming at Miami to the defending champion Heat after the Cavaliers could not hold on to an eight-point fourth quarter lead. Making the team’s feat more impressive is their last two victories coming without the services of All-Star Kyrie Irving, who has been out while nursing a hyperextended right knee. The Cavaliers were hopeful he would be able to play Friday, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
LAST TIME OUT
Clippers 99, Pacers 91. The Pacers boasted one of the best home records in the NBA at 24-5 coming into Thursday night’s game, but the Clippers and point guard Chris Paul did not seem to care.
Paul scored 29 points and dished out eight assists to lead the Clippers to their 19th road victory of the season. Blake Griffin added 18 points on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds.
The Clippers started the fourth quarter with a 13-3 scoring run to turn a seven point advantage into an 89-72 lead. The Pacers responded with a 13-0 run of their own thanks to a flurry of 3-pointers to knock the deficit down to four with 2:45 left but could not get any closer.
“It was a good solid win for us tonight,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We made it a little more difficult for ourselves down the stretch giving up two threes in about 30 seconds. But we battled, we fought and obviously Chris (Paul) made some big plays down the stretch.
Cavaliers 103, Raptors 92. The Cavaliers erupted for 37 points in the second quarter to take a 57-48 lead by halftime and they never looked back. The win also helped the Cavaliers finish February with a 7-5 record, their first winning month since March 2010.
The hot second quarter made up for a horrendous start as the Cavaliers opened the game hitting just one of their first 15 shot attempts. They went 33-for-67 from the field for the rest of the game and finished the game shooting 41.5%.
Six players scored in double figures for the Cavaliers, including former Clipper Shaun Livingston who finished with 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting to go along with six assists in 33 minutes filling in for Irving.
Dion Waiters vs. Jamal Crawford. Crawford has been a notorious “heat-check” player throughout his career, able to make near-impossible shots seemingly on a whim and catch fire with his jumper. He had another one of those games against the Pacers, scoring 23 points in 27 minutes off the bench. He currently leads all reserve players in scoring average with 16.8 points per game.
Waiters has been outstanding in his first season in the NBA. He is second amongst rookies in scoring, averaging 14.8 points a game. The Cavaliers have not missed a beat without their star point guard thanks in large part to Waiters, who has scored a combined 48 points in the two games Irving has missed, both wins.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Looking for Payback. The Cavaliers pulled off an upset over the Clippers in Los Angeles on Nov. 5 despite shooting just 43.5% from the field in the game. Waiters and Irving were a big reason why as the duo combined for 52 points. Waiters also hit seven 3-pointers, which is still a season high for the rookie.
The Clippers erased a nine-point fourth quarter deficit to tie the game at 94 but Waiters connected on consecutive 3-pointers to put the game out of reach.
A Blake Griffin Production. Griffin is averaging 20 points and 9.3 rebounds during the Clippers current three-game winning streak. He scored 20 points in the first meeting between the teams and has historically feasted on the Cavaliers defense.
In four games against Cleveland, Griffin is averaging a double-double, scoring 26.8 points and grabbing 10.5 rebounds per game.
Additionally, he has at least 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists in eight consecutive games, the second longest such streak in the NBA this season.
After hitting 4-of-5 from the charity stripe on Thursday, Griffin is now shooting 66% from the free throw line, a career best…The Clippers have lost 10 consecutive games to the Cavaliers in Cleveland, their last win coming on March 10, 2002… The Clippers have won four straight road games against Eastern Conference teams with Paul averaging 24.8 points and 9.8 assists per game in those wins.