I’m going to start my scouting report a little differently because the Clippers have already beaten us twice and so I’m sure most people are pretty familiar with the team. What I’d like to say is that the Kings have only beaten 5 teams; Minnesota and Cleveland on the road, Toronto, New Jersey and Washington at home. The road victories came against teams with a combined record of 14-45 (.237), and the home victories were against teams with a combined record of 26-60 (.302), the record of all 5 teams combined is (.276). We have beaten every team that has an average below .300 except for the Clippers, and have only beaten one team over .300 that being Toronto who now stands at 10-19 (.345). So, beating the Clippers who are 9-22 (.290) and only 2-11 (.154) on the road is a mathematical possibility.
For the season, we are losing on average by 8 pts, and in this current 7 game losing streak we’re losing by 10, and in our two losses to the Clippers we’ve lost on average by 12 ppg. It’s not just that we’re scoring 5 ppg below the league average or giving up 3 pts per game more than the league average. It’s about how we are finding ways to lose, and about the demoralization of the entire team. No matter how big our lead is, as soon as the other team goes on a run, it’s like we give up. The King’s players have been embarrassed by the lack of winning so often; I don’t believe that they care about being embarrassed anymore. I’m probably wrong, and maybe they’ll stand up and fight thru the 4th quarter of this game and give the Clippers a run for their money. But, it’s more than likely that anything I tell you about the Clippers will have very little impact on the outcome of the game. The outcome is going to depend on the pride and the resolve, that the Kings players show this time out.
The Clippers are 4-5 since defeating the Kings on Dec 6th. They were 2-4 at home and 2-1 on the road. The 2 road victories were their only road victories of the season, and came in back-2-back wins in Detroit and Chicago. So, the Clippers are still 0-9 on the road against Western Conference teams.
The lineups are similar to our last game with Kaman still out. But, Baron Davis who was just returning from an injury when we last meet is now back in the starting PG roll and Eric Bledsoe is now coming off the bench. The other major change is that backup PF Craig Smith is out with a herniated disc.
Davis is averaging 10.8 pts/ 6.8 asts on 42% FG shooting while starting the last 5 games. Eric Bledsoe the guy he replaced in the starting lineup, has been averaging 6 pts / 3.4 asts on 34% FG shooting. Eric Gordon, who started 29 games at SG, is averaging 22.9 pts / 4.2 asts on 46% field and 41.5% from three during the month of December. DeAndre Jordon is averaging 7.3 pts/ 8.2 rebs on 66% shooting while starting all 13 games in December. And, Blake Griffin is averaging 21.9 pts/ 13.7 rebs/ 4.1 asts on .500 FG% for the month of December, all of which are above his season average.
The Clippers are still the worst FT shooting team in the league, and are an average FG% team. Like the Kings, they are in the top 10 in offensive rebounds, but unlike the Kings who rank 21st; the Clippers are also in the top 10 in defensive rebounding as well. In our last meeting the Kings won the battle of the boards thanks to 10 by Omri Casspi, and were able to get to the FT line 32 times and were able to shoot 81%, outscoring the Clippers by 7pts at the charity stripe. LAC shot slightly better than their usual 33% from 3pt range but unfortunately the Kings shot only (18%) which lead to a 7 to 3 deficit from beyond the arc. But it was the 1-10 shooting of Beno, and the 0-4 and 0-2 shooting by Donte and Cisco that lead to the Kings shooting 36% from the field and losing the game.
In fact the Kings have not been able to shoot above 44% in their last 4 losses, and lost by an average of 9 pts per game. The Clippers have only shot below 53% in 1 of their last 5 game, and won 4 of the 5 games. And, the Kings have only been able to hold 2 teams to below 47% in their last 7 losses. So, the Clippers are definitely playing better than they did the last time we meet and have won their last 2 road games. And, we are play as poorly as we have all season.
Is the game winnable, absolutely. As long as the King’s players believe they can, especially in the 4th quarter when things aren’t going their way. They’re capable of doing everything that they need to win. Heck, they do those things every game, but somehow forget when the pressure is on and they need to pull together as a team. We believe, now if only they will too. Go Kings!!