Game Preview: Clippers look to sweep back-to-back for first time this season
If Wednesday was any indication, the Clippers are locked in and ready to make a playoff push.
The Clippers (19-21) are only a single game out of the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and 1.5 games out of the seventh slot after defeating Golden State (33-9) on its home floor on Wednesday, 125-106. Now, L.A. will take on Sacramento (13-27) on Thursday, looking to sweep a back-to-back for the first time this season against a team it has defeated twice already.
Sacramento, which has lost five of its last six, will be charged with the task of stopping the scorching hot Lou Williams, who scored a career-high 50 points at Oracle Arena on Wednesday.
Over the last 10 games, Williams is averaging 31.8 points and 5.3 assists on 48-percent shooting from the field and 46-percent shooting from three. And with Wednesday’s performance, he became the fifth player this season to score 50 points or more, joining Cleveland’s LeBron James, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Houston’s James Harden, who has accomplished the feat three times this season.
| 50pts/2rebs/7asts@TeamLou23 earned last night's @Kia Performance of the Game with a career high 50 points. 4th player in Clippers history to score 50+. #NBAVote— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) January 11, 2018
5️⃣ Takeaways: https://t.co/4WdS8szetJ
: https://t.co/GOICLO12TU pic.twitter.com/phyO2hCdF3
Williams also became the fourth player in Clippers history to score 50 points, along with Bob McAdoo, Freeman Williams and Charles Smith. The last Clippers player to score 50 was Smith (52) in December of 1990.
In addition, with Wednesday’s win, the Clippers broke a 12-game losing streak to the Warriors and an 11-game road losing streak to Golden State. The last time the Clippers defeated their Pacific Division rival was on Christmas of 2014, and the Clippers now have eight wins against division opponents this season, tied for most in the NBA.
However, despite the big win, the Clippers couldn’t entirely avoid what’s plagued them all season: injuries.
Rookie guard C.J. Williams, who scored 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 20 minutes, left the game early in the third quarter with a sprained right ankle. He did not return.
The Clippers entered Wednesday’s game without forwards Blake Griffin (concussion) and Danilo Gallinari (glute), and guards Milos Teodosic (sore plantar fasciitis) and Austin Rivers (right ankle injury). Regardless of injuries, the Clippers have won eight of their last 11 games. Only the Miami Heat (9-2) have more wins over the past 11 games.
As far as their matchup with the Kings goes, the Clippers have dominated Sacramento in recent years.
Since March of 2012, the Clippers are 21-4 against Sacramento and have won six of the last seven over the Kings, including three straight. Most recently, on Dec. 26, L.A. defeated Sacramento, 122-95, at STAPLES Center.
Thursday’s game will tip-off at 7 p.m., before the Kings turn around and travel to take on the Clippers at STAPLES Center on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.