CHARLOTTE - If the Clippers can keep it close tonight in Charlotte, history would indicate they should leave with a win.
The Hornets (4-10) have lost five in a row, including their last three by five points or fewer. But the Clippers (7-5) haven’t kept a game close on the road trip, winning two games by double digits and losing last night by double digits.
A seven-game road trip started swimmingly, as the Clippers looked stellar on both ends of the floor in Orlando and Miami before falling to the NBA’s hottest team in Memphis. The positive for the Clippers is they don’t have to wait long to get that taste out of their mouths, and they’ve gone 3-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
“There’s always another game,” said guard J.J. Redick. “We have four left on this trip. We still have a chance to have a great trip. We’ve got to learn from some stuff from (Sunday), but we’ve got to flush it and get ready for a good Charlotte team.”
Guard Chris Paul said it’s always better to get back onto the court after a loss like the one the Clippers suffered to the Grizzlies, who won by 16 points Sunday night. It would make sense that head coach Doc Rivers wasn’t thinking about Charlotte in the immediate aftermath of the Clippers’ loss to the Grizzlies.
“I thought the second half, we kind of lost our way a little bit (against the Grizzlies),” Rivers said. “But hey, give them credit. They came in and beat us. Now we have to go back on the road.”
Both the Clippers and the Hornets are entering the second game of a back-to-back, so fatigue can’t be an excuse for either team Monday night.
Charlotte’s in the midst of some serious struggles, losing seven of their last eight games. They’ve had a shot in almost all of them, however, only losing by more than five points twice in that span. Paul said the Clippers need to have a short memory in regards to last night’s loss.
“At home, they play with a lot of energy,” Paul said. “They’ve got a great big man in Al Jefferson and a great point guard in Kemba Walker. So we’ve got to let this one go and get ready for (tonight).”
LAST TIME OUT
Grizzlies 107, Clippers 91: After double-digit wins in each of the Clippers’ first two games of the road trip, the Grizzlies flipped the script on the Clippers in Memphis. It was never close after the first quarter, as the Clippers had no answer for Marc Gasol, who poured in 30 points and 12 rebounds. Memphis followed up on why it’s the best team in basketball right now.
Heat 94, Hornets 93: The Heat had lost three straight home games before a one-point victory against the Hornets, led by Luol Deng’s 26 points. The Hornets exploded in the third, doubling the Heat’s points in the quarter after falling behind at halftime, but the fourth quarter was a different story. The Hornets had multiple chances to win it on late possessions, but they failed to put the ball in the net.
Clippers’ interior vs. Al Jefferson – After major struggles against Gasol and the Grizzlies’ interior, the test doesn’t get much easier tonight in Charlotte. Jefferson is averaging 21 points per game for the Hornets and has a double-double in each of his last two games. Jefferson has scored at least 20 points in each of his last three games. The good news for the Clippers is outside of Jefferson, Walker and Gary Neal, no other Hornets player averages double-digit points.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
- Which defense steps up – Both teams are letting opponents shoot 46 percent or better. That’s been a much bigger issue for the Hornets, who are shooting 43.6 percent from the field, than the Clippers, who are shooting 46.8 percent. In addition, the Clippers have played at a better pace, getting more possessions per game and more chances to score.
- Hitting the glass – Both teams are in the bottom third of the league in offensive rebounds per game and the bottom five in the league in offensive rebound percentage. Subsequently, both teams are also in the bottom third of the league in second chance points. One would assume there won’t be many second opportunities off missed shots.
The Clippers and Hornets split the season series last year, with Blake Griffin scoring at least 27 points in both games… The Clippers have held Charlotte to 95 points or fewer in each of the last seven meetings … The Clippers are top five in the league in offensive efficiency, while the Hornets are in the bottom 10 despite Jefferson’s strong year … The Clippers are also top five in the league in true shooting percentage, while the Hornets are in the bottom five … Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (foot) and P.J. Hairston (ankle) are expected out for Charlotte