PREGAME REPORT | FEBRUARY 4, 2013

 



Tipoff: 4:00 p.m. PST | Verizon Center | Washington, D.C. | Game Notes »

                           

RAFAEL GUERRERO

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The Clippers enter the fourth game of their season-long eight-game road trip after a gut-wrenching loss in Boston just 24 hours earlier.

The Clippers, whose comeback effort came up two points short against the Celtics, are 1-2 on their “Grammy” road trip, after starting it with a 96-90 win at Minnesota. They come into Washington, D.C. Monday night to take on a Wizards team that is reeling themselves, having lost four consecutive games. But the Wizards (11-35) have made the Verizon Center a difficult place to play for visitors in the last few weeks, having won five of their last six games at home including victories over the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder.

This will be the final meeting of the season between the two teams. The Clippers (34-15) scored an ugly 94-87 victory over the Wizards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19 despite shooting 36.6% from the field and 23.8% from 3-point range. That game also marked the return of Chris Paul to the Clippers lineup with a 22-point, 11-assist performance. Paul’s comeback proved to be short-lived as he was shut down just a couple of nights later with a bruised right kneecap.

He is listed as a game-time decision for the Clippers. Wizards guard Bradley Beal (wrist) is not expected to play.

LAST TIME OUT

Celtics 106, Clippers 104: Paul Pierce hit a cold-blooded 3-pointer from 25-feet out with 2.5 seconds left to seal the victory for the Celtics, who won their fourth consecutive game since losing Rajon Rondo for the season with a torn ACL.

The Clippers cut a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to two with 56 seconds left in the game when Eric Bledsoe drained his second 3-pointer, but could get no closer thanks to an offensive foul call on Jamal Crawford and Pierce’s dagger 3-pointer.

Bledsoe finished the game with 23 points on 7-for-15 shooting to go along with 10 assists and seven rebounds and Blake Griffin added 20 points and 11 boards. Crawford, who played with a nasal fracture he sustained in Toronto on Feb. 1, also dropped 23 points in 31 minutes off the bench.

“I thought we fought back well, obviously had some chances,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “You know, we turned the ball over way too much. And we’re a little out of sync right now obviously with the rotations and with the injuries we have, but that’s no excuse.”

Spurs 96, Wizards 86: The Wizards completed their three-game road trip with their fourth straight defeat, this one to the top team in the NBA. It was also their 13th consecutive loss in San Antonio.

John Wall made his sixth start of the season and had his best game in a non-reserve role. He scored 21 points on 10-for-22 shooting and dished out nine assists in 36 minutes. Martell Webster scored 14 points and hit 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Chris Singleton and Trevor Ariza each scored in double figures off the bench, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Spurs jumped out to a 27-17 lead after the first quarter and things got worse from there for the Wizards. They scored just nine points in the second quarter to fall behind by 25 at the break and shot just 40.9% for the game.

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 19 points and 12 assists in just 33 minutes and Danny Green added 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP

John Wall vs. Eric Bledsoe: The former University of Kentucky backcourt tandem will face each other as starting point guards on opposite teams for the first time in their careers.

In the 13 games since Wall came back from a knee injury, the Wizards are 6-7, although they had won six of nine prior to their current skid. He is averaging 14.2 points and 6.7 assists per game since his return. Wall is also averaging 19.2 points and 9.1 assists per 36 minutes, an important stat since the third-year point guard was a reserve in his first seven games for the Wizards this season.

On the other side, Bledsoe has performed admirably in filling in for arguably the top point guard in the NBA. In nine games as a starter, Bledsoe is averaging 11.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. He is also second to Paul on the team in steals, averaging 1.6 thefts per game, and leads the NBA in steals per 48 minutes (3.7).

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

Turnovers. The Clippers are one of the best teams at taking care of the ball, ranking fifth in the NBA in turnovers at 14.3 a game. But the team has lost the turnover battle in their last three games. They coughed the ball up a combined 34 times against Toronto and Boston, both losses.

As for the Wizards, turnovers have been just one of the many reasons they are tied for last place in the Eastern Conference. They are 28th in the league in turnovers, averaging 15.5 a game.

The Frontcourt: Rebounding continues to be a sore spot for the Clippers this season despite outrebounding the Celtics in Sunday’s loss. The Clippers are ranked 17th in the NBA in rebounding, averaging 41.9 despite having two of the most athletic and imposing frontcourt players in the league. Griffin leads the team in rebounding, grabbing 8.6 boards a game. DeAndre Jordan is a distant second on the team with 6.9 rebounds a game, down from his career-high 8.3 rebounding average last season.

The Wizards rank near the bottom of the league in most statistical categories, but rebounding is the exception. They are ninth in the league averaging 43.4 boards a game and are led by Emeka Okafor with 8.6 rebounds a game and 12.3 boards per 36 minutes.

NOTES

The Clippers are 7-4 this season in the second game of a back-to-back situation… Griffin has made 26 of his last 34 free throw attempts and has improved his free throw percentage to a career best 65.8% this season... After Monday night’s game, the Clippers will travel to Florida to take on the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat before concluding their road trip with a back-to-back against the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.

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