Wolves @ Clippers Gameday
Injuries have hit the Clippers roster while the Wolves continue to surge after the two teams met on December 6. Los Angeles crushed Minnesota at the Target Center 107-84 in the first encounter but both teams look completely different heading into the contest today. Baron Davis exploded for 27 points and nine assists in the victory over the Wolves last month. On the opposite side, Minnesota struggled all night from the field by only shooting 39 percent. Al Jefferson contributed 28 points in the losing effort and Kevin Love posted 15 rebounds. Don’t expect Davis to suite up in the contest after missing the past eight games due to a bruised tailbone. In addition to missing its star player, Los Angeles also struggled without Zach Randolph in the line up for the previous 11 games. Even with the talented roster, Los Angeles ranks 29th in scoring at 93.2 points per game. The laundry list of injuries has led to one win in the past 13 games for the Clippers. Los Angeles will enter the game with a 9-30 overall record and fifth in the Pacific Division.
The Wolves should be ecstatic with the absence of Davis in the backcourt for the Clippers. Los Angeles drops 17 points and eight assists from the starting lineup and had to replace Davis with Mardy Collins. Through 25 games played this season, Collins averages only 6.1 points per game and lacks the playmaking skills that Davis provided to the Clippers. At the shooting guard position, Eric Gordon has given Los Angeles fans a sense of hope for the future in the midst of losing 12 of its last 13 games. The rookie out of Indiana did not have a scoring impact in the first contest with eight points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field on December 6. With the recent injuries in the backcourt, Gordon has given the Clippers an offensive option and has increased his scoring average to 12.5 points per game. Randy Foye is red-hot for Minnesota and fresh off a game-winning shot in the victory over Phoenix on Friday. Sebastian Telfiar is also playing solid basketball at the point guard spot, which should tip the scale towards the Wolves for an advantage in the backcourt.
Zach Randolph scored 21 points to help lead Los Angeles past Minnesota in the first meeting. The Clippers frontcourt is now dealing with the loss of Randolph for the last 11 games due to a left knee bone bruise. Center Chris Kaman has missed the majority of the season and Marcus Camby suffered an ankle sprain in the game against Milwaukee on Saturday. Los Angeles moved Camby to power forward while bringing Brian Skinner off the bench at the center position. Skinner poured in 18 points and grabbed eight boards in a surprising performance against the Bucks. At 6-foot-9, do not expect Skinner to dominate the paint against the Wolves as he averages just three points a game this year. Al Thornton is one healthy starter for the Clippers that will suite up for the contest today. As the third-leading scorer, Thornton only scored eight points on December 6 against Minnesota but he will be the main scoring threat in the frontcourt for Los Angeles. Thornton is a poor 3-point shooter and will score most of his points by penetrating the defense off the dribble. In this matchup, Minnesota has the clear advantage in the frontcourt as Craig Smith snapped a scoring slump against Phoenix and Al Jefferson is looking for his 22nd double-double this season.
The Wolves proved the five-game win streak to start the month was no fluke after a big road victory over the Suns on Friday night. With the win, Minnesota improved to 6-1 in January and the team will play its second of three straight road games in Los Angeles today. The decimated Clippers roster offers a great opportunity for the Wolves to increase their road record to 7-13 while Los Angeles only holds a 4-16 home record. Tipoff set for 2:30 PM at the Staples Center.
|Los Angeles Clippers|