Nets top Clippers, to make the 7-4 record, on a night with lots of highlight moments.It was a really fun game. How could it not be? Two talented team with many superstars on the floor, lots of highflyers and shot blockers.
The game was really tight at the beginning. The Clippers managed to get a lot of easy points early on, with good ball movement and many dishes. Once again we saw some really nice dunks and alley oops. The first period ended with the teams tied at 25 and the Clippers in fact held a 7 point advantage by the end of the first half. Then, at the second half, Brooklyn became really stronger and more competitive thus allowing only 10 baskets in the second half and containing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin at the offensive end. They both finished with 14 points each. Clippers made lots of mistakes, especially in the second half (20 in total) and lost some easy chances to get back in to the game. But they just couldn’t make that happen. Not with Paul being scoreless in the last quarter. Little help was given by the rest of the crew, with Jordan finishing with 12 points and 13 rebounds and Crawford with 14 points. All other Clipper players finished with single digits. Coach Del Negro stated after the game”The turnovers really hurt us tonight. We didn’t shoot the basketball. We missed a lot of easy shots”
On the other hand, the Nets got a really nice game from Brook Lopez, who finished with a game high 26 points and some really nice dunks to fire things up. Williams had 11 points and 8 assist, but his shot continue to struggle 3 of 10 from the field. Joe Johnson contributed with 19 to help the Nets end their 2 game losing streak. We just tried to make things as hard as possible for him,” Williams said. Reggie Evans really showed up off the bench and provided a nice boost to finish with 6 points and 12 rebounds against his former team.
Sitting among the fans at the Barclays Center, Nets co-owner Jay-Z with his wife and star singer Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and other stars. With something less than 2 minutes before the end of the 3rd quarter, there were some pretty loud chants of “Overrated, Overrated” against Griffing, causing him to miss a pair of free throws right after. Next one for the Clippers, Saturday at Atlanta and for the Nets Sunday vs Portland.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 2012-2013. UP TO DATE SEASON REVIEW
Which team comes in mind when you hear Los Angeles? Let me guess, the Lakers. Well, this is about to change, if it hasn’t already changed, at least this season in the NBA. The Clippers are making their presence felt for sure. They did so right from the start of the off-season.
The team seems to have found the missing pieces after last season’s rebirth. All-star point guard Chris Paul landed in LA, but wearing White and Red instead of Lakers purple-yellow. And it was a huge acquisition by the team. Lob city they’re called and for a good reason. It just makes sense having a strong duo at the front court, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and balancing it with top tier perimeter guard like Paul and Jamal Crawford and Caron Butler. Even the bench looks good, in fact really good and with lots of potential. A big question mark lies in the stakes of Lamar Odom. He watched his career melt down after the Lakers Trade fiasco, was sent to D-League and wasn’t utilized by the Mavericks. This year, he is trying to revamp his game but till now he hasn’t contributed much. If he founds his rhythm he can play a huge role in the Clippers’ chase of a top playoff spot.
The Clippers are getting quite a performance out of Jamal Crawford who leads the team in scoring with a little over 19 PPG followed by Griffin and Paul with 17 and 15 PPG. For a team with that much size and the lack of true Centers in the NBA, the team is not performing that good at rebounding, ranked 20th in the whole league but generally, defense is quite good as the team is 4th in blocking and 1st in steals. If fact we’ve seen some amazing blocks this far from DeAndre Jordan and Griffin. The 8-4 start shows that the team has much potential. It’s for sure a playoff caliber team and with and due to the youth of key players like Griffin, Paul and Jordan this team can have an even brighter future, with a couple of tweaks.
Head coach Vinnie Del Negro is a rather respected coach, who seems to know what the team needs to spark up and inherit a quick and energetic rhythm of play. He’s managed to make the team a strong presence in the Western Division and overcome the obstacle of having a giant rival in town (Lakers). Clippers’ game is just a joy to watch, with this fast-paced rhythm and the alley oops towards Griffin and Jordan. It’s a team which gives us pretty much highlight material almost every time and fills with enthusiasm fans watching at the Staples Center.
One thing is for sure. When people hear about the Clippers, it’s not going to be a joke any more.
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Typically an NBA club would be ecstatic over a 5-2 start that includes a big win over the San Antonio Spurs. The Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in that position, leading the Pacific Division six games in. Unfortunately for Clippers fans those two losses are head scratchers, both at home to Golden State and Cleveland.
This proves that once again the Clippers are nothing but consistent in their lack of consistency. Even with that lack of consistency the Clips are in a solid position in the Pacific division, especially with the heavily favored Lakers occupying last place in the Pacific.
Of course it’s that lack of consistency that puzzles Clippers fans as well as a handful of other lingering questions marks like:
The Coaching Situation: Like his former Staples Center colleague Mike Brown, Vinny Del Negro is the target of constant criticism and bemusement from the pundits. A large part of the Clippers inconsistency is a perceived lack of effort at times and some real ups and downs on the defensive end. Any time a team with the sheer athleticism of the Clippers struggles as much as they do on the defensive boards and defending the basket (opponents shooting 60% at the rim) the coach is going to receive some heat. The Clippers can likely coast to a fifty-win season based on their sheer depth and athleticism inside. Unfortunately it’s during playoff basketball that you become exposed, exhibit A being the San Antonio Spurs series last season. Until the Clippers make a deep playoff run and beat a team like San Antonio the question marks regarding Del Negro’s coaching ability will remain.
Effort: Of course a lack of success on the defensive end can only partially be blamed on the scheme and head coach. The Clippers are consistently being outrebounded even though they boast arguably two of the top ten most athletic post players in basketball in Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. As Dennis Rodman and Kevin Love have shown rebounding is about a lot more than athletic ability, a huge part of it is hustle and desire. If the Lob City went after defensive boards like they did Chris Paul lob passes they wouldn’t be in a negative rebounding margin.
The Rotation: Beyond the defensive end another area where critics of Del Negro are constantly scratching their heads is his rotation. A prime example this year is the disparity in minutes between Willie Greene and Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe has been one of the Clippers bright spots with his energy and ability to push the basketball, but for some reason his minutes have been half of those of Willie Green, with Bledsoe nearly doubling Greene in PER.
Admittedly it’s way too early to rip the rotation. This early in the season teams are typically trying to find out what their ideal rotation is. Still the construction of the Clippers roster can be a bit head-scratching at times. There are three guys whose best position is small forward in Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, and Caron Butler. Combine those three with two guys who also can play the three in Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom and you have quite a glut at the swingman spot. At the point guard spot Chris Paul is clearly the team leader and top three NBA point guard—but behind Paul are two others guys that need minutes in Eric Bledsoe and Chauncey Billups (when he returns). It’s clear that Del Negro will have his work cut out for him in finding a consistent winning rotation while keeping everyone happy.
Question marks aside the Clippers are still 5-2 and in a great position. If they can overcome the occasional off-nights against poor clubs they are a real threat to win the Pacific Conference. Considering their still very much a young team it’s important they gain one of the top four seeds out west and avoid an early matchup against a team like San Antonio or Oklahoma City Thunder. The Clippers proved they have what it takes to make a playoff run last season. Now they need to prove they can make a deep run into the playoffs.
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TIMBERWOLVES Vs CLIPPERS: 109 to 97. Derrick Williams had a career-high 27 points and Michael Beasley also scored 27 as visiting Minnesota roared past Los Angeles in the fourth quarter.
Williams was 9 of 10 from the field and made all four of his 3-pointers, and scored 13 of the Timberwolves’ first 17 points in the final period.
Beasley was 11 for 15 and also scored 13 in the fourth as Minnesota (18-17) already surpassed its win total from last season. The Timberwolves outscored the Clippers 36-21 in the fourth after trailing 76-73.
Minnesota had a monumental 72-11 advantage in bench points and made 10 of 22 3-pointers compared to 2 of 11 for the Clippers.
The Clippers jumped to a 61-51 lead with seven points to open the third quarter, but Minnesota went on an 8-0 run keyed by five points from Johnson.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Ricky Rubio played against Paul for the first time this season. “Yes, but I play against him in Olympic games and I know him,” Rubio said. “He’s a tough guy. He knows how to play. He’s the key of this team.” … Coach Vinny Del Negro said the Clippers might still listen to deals before the March 15 trade deadline. … Clippers backup power forward Kenyon Martin’s bruised ribs could take a few weeks to heal, Del Negro said. … The Timberwolves’ 16 first-half assists are a season high for the opening half. … The Timberwolves return to Staples Center on Wednesday to play the Lakers before a game at Phoenix on Thursday.
Preview: Minnesota At L.A. Clippers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
THE STORY: Minnesota, one game out of a playoff spot, begins the second set of three games in three nights when it meets the Clippers in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The game features two of the best young All-Stars in the league. Kevin Love (25 points, 14 rebounds) and Blake Griffin (21.4 points, 11.4 rebounds) are the only players averaging at least 21 points and 11 rebounds. Minnesota is 46-41 all-time against the Clippers, and the 46 wins is its most against any opponent.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FS North (Timberwolves), FS Prime Ticket (Clippers)
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ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (17-17): Love won the 3-point Shootout on Saturday at All-Star weekend. Love’s 3-pointer at the buzzer capped a fourth-quarter comeback that gave Minnesota a 101-98 victory over the Clippers on Jan. 20. The Timberwolves stay in Los Angeles to play the Lakers on Wednesday and play at Phoenix on Thursday. “We’ll need a lot of guys to step up if we’re going to maintain what we’ve done so far,” coach Rick Adelman said. “Our schedule becomes really difficult in March.” The Timberwolves play 13 of their next 19 games on the road.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (20-11): Minnesota’s victory in January over the Clippers came with Chris Paul and Caron Butler out. Both should be in the lineup Tuesday. “After the break, that’s when it gets serious” Paul said. “(There’s) definitely a lot of room for improvement. Obviously we haven’t peaked yet and we can keep getting better.” The Clippers agreed to a 10-day contract with Bobby Simmons on Monday. Simmons, 31, played two seasons with the Clippers from 2003-05. He won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award in 2004-05.
1. In 17 career games against the Timberwolves, Paul is averaging 21.1 points and 10.5 assists.
2. Minnesota is 7-1 when forward Wes Johnson scores at least nine points.
3. Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio leads all rookies in assists (8.4) and steals (2.35).
PREDICTION: Clippers 98, Timberwolves 89
After tonights game the Clippers play again at the Los Angeles Staples Center on March 11 2012 against the Warriors. We have plenty of Warriors Vs Clippers Tickets in stock for that game as well as Clippers Tickets for all home and away games.
L.A. Clippers Denver 103 95
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 10:30 PM
Location - Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
Officials - #52 Scott Twardoski, #57 Greg Willard, #40 Leon Wood
Attendance - 19163
Paul was 11 of 16 from the field and made 11 of 12 free throws.
The Clippers led 89-83 but Denver used a 7-0 run to take back the lead, 90-89 with 7:26 left. That was the final field goal the Nuggets (18-16) made as they missed their final 13 shots. Griffin scored six of the Clippers final 12 points as they pulled away.
DeAndre Jordan grabbed 16 rebounds and scored 10 for the Clippers (20-11), who avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season.
Jordan Hamilton had his best game of the season for the Nuggets, scoring a season-best 18 points, including 4 of 5 on 3-pointers, and grabbing seven rebounds.
Denver’s Arron Afflalo had 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Nuggets reserve Al Harrington had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists. Kenneth Faried had 12 points and nine rebounds.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said he is pleased overall with the Clippers as they heading into the All-Star break. “I’m pleased with the way the guys have kind of tried to come together with a lot of moving parts,” Del Negro said. “I think overall the guys have really stayed together and grinded some wins out for us, which has put us in a good position.” … Nene (calf injury) has played in just 23 of Denver’s 34 games and might not be 100 percent healthy until next season, according to coach George Karl. … Los Angeles’ Mo Williams was just 2 of 16 and made just 1 of 9 3-pointers.
L.A. Clippers will play their next game at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. You can get tickets for the Timberwolves Vs Clippers now. The Clippers have a W/L % of .550 after a win and .818 after a loss.
This year’s rookie crop may not be the deepest or ever produce the next Michael Jordan or Tim Duncan but it will fill gaping roster holes for many teams for many years to come. By and large almost every productive rookie so far in the season is a guard who is a scoring specialist (sans Ricky Rubio, who has been favorably compared to Steve Nash). The only big man to earn consistent minutes so far in the season is Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the University of Texas. While it looks as if Thompson will eventually get the chance this year to produce in starter’s minutes, it is unclear what his niche in the NBA will be. He is a capable post-up player, but not overly useful and raw. His jumper at times seems shaky even when it is going in. His defense usually consists of coming from the weak side and using his length to alter shots (which is fine). He was taken fourth overall, also by Cleveland as they attempt to rebuild in the wake of Lebron’s “Decision,” but in a good year he might have been a big man project taken in the 10-15 range instead. Another big man who may yet make waves is Lithuanian Center Jonas Valanciunas, taken 5th overall by the internationally minded Toronto Raptors. Valanciunas is considered one of the best big men outside of the NBA and the Raptors organization has high hopes for him. But will he produce? At age 19, it is difficult to tell, but he will have a tough time finding Center minutes in Toronto next year with Andrea Bargnani, Amir Johnson, and Ed Davis all in town. Rather, this year’s rookie crop has mostly seen a new generation of guard take over, headed by guaranteed future All-Star Kyrie Irving, taken no. 1 overall out of Duke.
Currently, Irving is starting for the Cleveland Cavs and averaging a great grand 17.7 points per game and 5.2 assists on a staggering 48.6 Field Goal percentage. Not only is that the best out of any Point Guard taken in this year’s draft, but it is one of the best percentages period. If he can keep this up, he’ll be on pace to consistently improve to a Deron Williams-esque statistical output. In his rookie year, Deron averaged only 10.8 points per game and 4.5 assists on only 42% FG. However, by ’07-’08, Deron leapt up to 18.8 ppg, 10.5 assists, on 50.7% FG. If Irving can nearly match these numbers in his rookie year, he’ll be on track to quickly and quietly become one of the NBA’s elite Point Guards. Perhaps a better comparison to Irving is Chris Paul, who actually is considered the best Point Guard in the league. His rookie year saw him average 16 ppg, 7.8 assists and less than a three-pointer per game on 43% shooting. Not only is Irving averaging a significantly higher shooting percentage, but he already knocks down three-pointers with relative ease. Irving will become a star as soon as the public begins to take notice of his immense potential and production.
Similar to Irving at the Point Guard position this year are stand-out rookies Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons and Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Bobcats. Knight has been starting for the Pistons since Rodney Stuckey went down with injury a few weeks ago and has seen his stats and game in general improve. While his stats will not blow anyone out of the water, during the last two weeks since he’s been starting he’s been averaging 13 points, 3.7 assists, 5.1 rebounds, 2 three-pointers on almost 44% shooting. Very respectable. His main problem is turning the ball over, which he tends to do more often than not because Detroit does not have a reliable post-player (Greg Monroe faces up) or a wing player (Tayshaun Prince is not a reliable scoring wing). Also productive is Kemba Walker (Brandon Knight’s rival from UConn). Walker is now starting in the backcourt with D.J. Augustin and tearing it up. Over the past two weeks he’s averaging 15 ppg, 3.6 rebs, 3.8 assists, 2 steals, and almost 2 treys. His stats over the past three games in a starting role have been even higher. Walker stands at 6’1, Knight stands at 6’3, and New York’s Iman Shumpert stands at 6’5. All three are considered “combo guards” to some extent, but Knight and Walker are physically more of a “pure Point Guard” type. Shumpert, taken 17th overall by New York out of Georgia Tech, is a physical specimen. During the draft combine, he proved himself to be the most athletic player of the group. Since taking over the starting PG role for an injured Toney Douglas in New York, he has averaged 12 points, 3.2 rebs, 3.4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 three-pointer per game. He plays 33 or more minutes per game at both guard spots and will eventually break out to average significantly more than he does currently. His ability to play anywhere on the court in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo style will see him earn a spot on the All-Rookie team.
Other productive Guards from this draft class include MarShon Brooks, Ricky Rubio, Norris Cole, and Kawhi Leonard. All have made their way from the bench to the starting lineup, or will soon. Cole and Brooks are very surprising because they can get their own shot at-will. Brooks appears to be a polished scorer from anywhere on the floor. His game is reminiscent of a young Paul Pierce. Cole actually seems to be more of a Dwayne Wade-type finisher at the rim, although he is not afraid to take a wide-open jumper. Both are perfect contributors in their current roles for their teams. Cole gets to practice with the All-World combo of Lebron James and D-Wade while Brooks gets the freedom in New Jersey to get whatever shot he wants. Rubio is perhaps the only pure Point Guard in the class and is averaging 8 assists per game. Kawhi Leonard has recently been compared to Bruce Bowen by Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich. Leonard’s game continues to improve drastically and he now starts at SG alongside Tony Parker and Richard Jefferson. All of these players will be regular fixtures for their respective teams for years to come while almost none of them were expected to even start until at least midseason or even until their sophmore season. They all continue to impress and improve while next year’s draft will likely see a crop of big men that has rarely been seen in the league. Next year’s draft will likely include 3-4 All-Star caliber Power Forwards and Centers while this year’s draft will eventually yield 3-4 All-Star Guards.
Imagine being a Clippers fan on December 7th 2011. On that day, Clippers fans had the unfortunate task of watching Sports Center announce that the LA Lakers had won the Chris Paul sweepstakes. One can imagine the collective sighs, moans, groans and rearrangement of living room furniture from the Clippers fan base upon hearing that announcement. After years of having to deal with Lakers duos such as Magic-Worthy and Kobe-Shaq, the CP3-Kobe duo appeared to be a reality.
Then David Stern stuck his nose where it didn’t belong. However, The Clippers are better for it.
The arrival of CP3 has put this long-suffering franchise on the fast-track to being a championship contender. Last year, the Clippers were only worth watching to see Blake Griffin fly through the air with the greatest of ease. It was attractive and entertaining, but it didn’t translate into good basketball.
In the early part of the regular season, we have seen an increase in the entertainment value as well as the basketball IQ. This was seen in the Clippers OT win against the Heat in which Chris Paul scored 27 points, 11 assists and a +13 in the plus/minus column. Chris Paul’s mental fortitude and leadership will be a huge asset to Blake Griffin. Despite Blake Griffin’s statistical impact last season and this season, his game is still mostly raw and unpolished. If Griffin can develop his post-game and 16-foot jumpshot, he will be a match-up nightmare for opposing power-forwards.
Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups could be considered the X-factors for the LA Clippers. Both men would pay huge dividends if they could stay injury-free. But considering that both men finished their respective seasons sidelined with injuries, these free-agent pickups carry a significant amount of risk as well. Vinny Del Negro was smart to put Chauncey in the starting line-up at the 2 spot. Chauncey’s shot-making ability makes his transition to shooting guard easier. It also eliminated any potential controversy that could potentially have affected Chauncey’s morale. After all, Billups was very frustrated after his release from the Knicks.
DeAndre Jordan’s athleticism and shot-blocking ability are off the charts. Dwight Howard may be the only other center with more agility at the center position. However, he needs to develop an offensive game ASAP. One could only benefit from CP3’s lobs for so long. The Clipper’s lack of scoring depth off the bench is a concern. Mo Williams fits the role of sixth man perfectly, but Randy Foye and Bryan Cook will not scare opposing head coaches. Considering the longevity concerns of Butler and Billups, it would behoove Clippers GM Neil Olshey to add some scoring punch off the bench before the trading deadline.
One cannot help but love the chemistry of the Clipper’s starting lineup. A pure point guard, a 2 guard appropriately named Mr. Big Shot, a small forward that could penetrate and slash to the basket, a power forward that could put up 20 points and 10 rebounds at will, and a center that could alter shots at the rim.
The Lakers may need to sleep with one eye open. The Clippers are coming.
Lob City is in full effect!
Blake Griffin’s dynamic ability nearly single-handedly led the Los Angeles Clippers to a 32-50 record last year despite winning the Rookie of the Year award. This year, however, the Clippers’ roster figures to take full advantage of the young dynamo’s talent with the addition of All World Point Guard Chris Paul and former NBA Finals’ MVP PG Chauncey Billups. Paired with DeAndre Jordan in the front line of Vinny Del Negro’s offensive scheme, already in this young 2011-2012 season the media is calling the Paul/Billups to Griffin/Jordan frontcourt “Lob City,” in reference to the enormous number of impending, highlight-reel ally-oop dunks that are sure to awe NBA fans from Game 1 to Game 66. Most appealing about the Clippers now, though, is the potential they now possess. Unlike in previous seasons, the Clippers now possess a pre-made NBA playoff team. Although Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard on the planet, other key additions (and subtractions!) to the Clippers’ roster make them infinitely dangerous, with the potential to compete for a title every year for the foreseeable future as long as their young players continue to grow all-around games.
The creation of “Lob City” may have begun oddly enough with the trade of Baron Davis’ departure to the Cleveland Cavaliers last year. Interestingly, along with Davis and his scruffy beard, the Clippers traded their first-round pick in exchange for much maligned Mo Williams and defensive-minded athlete Jamario Moon. The draft pick eventually helped the Cavaliers land two top-five picks, including the number 1 overall pick in PG Kyrie Irving and Texas hot-prospect PF Tristan Thompson. Clippers fans may rejoice, though, as it was this exact deal that enabled the Clippers land Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, and Caron Butler. Baron Davis is known as a shoot-first big point guard who had all of the potential in the world. However, due to injuries and a somewhat lazy disposition towards passing the rock to younger players, Davis’ departure should be seen as a boon. Eric Gordon, a future top 10 guard in the league, can fill up the stat sheet with his insane offensive ability. But Gordon has become an injury risk and is too small to defend top-tier shooting guards and not strong enough to slash to the hoop to take the game over in the 4th quarter like Dwayne Wade. In short, it was never sure that Eric Gordon or the pick that became Kyrie Irving would develop into world-class talent, so the gamble for Chris Paul at this moment should be seen as a success. Through trading Davis for reliable veteran Mo Williams the Clips cleared out a head-case and acquired one of the best PGs of this generation.
Shortly before the CP3 trade was finalized, the Clips reached an agreement to sign Chauncey Billups for the league minimum, as the New York Knicks bought out his contract. Billups is a one of a kind combo guard with tremendous experience and leadership abilities. So far in the young season he has been starting at the SG position and hitting a ton of three pointers. Most importantly though, Billups can mentor a young CP3 into maturity as the backcourt is sure to experience numerous long playoff battles before Billups retires. In addition to signing Billups, the Clippers acquired SF Caron Butler and PF Reggie Evans, two signings that have gone under the radar.
Caron Butler is fresh off winning an NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks and brings a solid all-around game to the burgeoning Clippers. He defends well and plays the passing lanes on defense leading to steals and fast break opportunities, a situation in which CP3, Billups, and Griffin will undoubtedly shine. He can also hit the open jumper and move the ball unselfishly, an important trait for a starting SF on this type of roster. Reggie Evans is another veteran player who has made the most out of his career despite an unfortunate size. Known around the league as one of the best rebounders, Evans brings a type of hard-nosed approach to the glass that DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin will benefit from. He will not eat a lot of minutes but when he does see time in the playoffs, his quirky maneuvers to acquire offensive boards can treat fans to even more opportunities for CP3 to Griffin dunks.
So far the Clips are 3-2 but have been coming on strong as of late. As the team gels together and each player finds his role, the lack of backcourt size will become less noticeable as the team finds creative ways to play the passing lanes using Paul and Butler’s speed. Most importantly, in addition to likely making a strong playoff run this spring, the team has the flexibility to add front-court depth via free-agency and still draft a serviceable backup SF to take the reigns from Butler. Fans should watch the development of this team from embryo to contender in less than two years.
THE STORY: If there is any team in the NBA that should have fresh legs, it’s the Los Angeles Clippers. Thanks to the quirks of the 66-game schedule, the Clippers have played a league-low six games. Despite being a work in progress while trying to blend Chris Paul into the fold, they’ve been pretty good in those limited chances. “We still have a lot of growing to do,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “There are no shortcuts. We can’t take any shortcuts with this.” The Clippers will seek their fourth straight victory in 2012 when the Los Angeles Clippers travel to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. The upstart Blazers are a perfect 5-0 at the Rose Garden this season.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (4-2): Blake Griffin, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, has scored 20-plus points in every game, including 20 in a 93-88 win over Portland on Jan. 1. The triumph snapped a five-game losing skid to the Blazers. While Paul has yet to entirely find his scoring groove, he is dishing out assists as steady as ever with an average of 9.3 per game, fifth in the league. The Clippers are struggling under the rim as they have been outrebounded in all six games.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (6-2): LaMarcus Aldridge has yet to make an All-Star team in his young career, but this could be the season. The 26-year-old forward is averaging a career-best 22.6 points while grabbing 7.8 rebounds. More importantly, the Blazers are 5-0 when he scores over 20 points. Fellow forward Gerald Wallace is averaging 21.2 ppg at home compared to just 4.7 on the road. Center Marcus Camby has only three points in his last three games.