After another Kings game in which we saw a big lead from the Kings dwindle into a tight finish, the Kings travel to Los Angeles for a Saturday night game against the Clippers. If you're thinking "hey it's been a while since the Kings have played the Clips!", you aren't wrong. The Kings faced off in the home opener against the Clippers and then again in the third game of the season on Halloween Night. This time around, Sacramento faces a Clippers squad without star forward Blake Griffin, who is out with a tear in his quad. You'd think that'd slow the Clippers down, but instead they're in the midst of an NBA-long 10 game win streak. This game can be seen on CSN-CA, can be heard on KHTK 1140 and begins at 7:30pm. Let's talk Kings basketball.
Something to Consider:
It's a Trap!: As pointed out in the intro, the Los Angeles Clippers are in the midst of a 10 game winning streak, nine of those wins coming without Blake Griffin. In the absence of the All-Star forward, the Clippers have turned to a menagerie of lineups; starting Luc Mbah a Moute at small forward, pushing Paul Pierce into the starting power forward role, sometimes sprinkling in a helping of Josh Smith when Doc thinks his brain is present for the game. While any double digit win streak is commendable and a difficult in feat, the Clippers had enormous luck in the timing of Blake Griffin's injury, and a particularly soft schedule to help alleviate any fears of a tail spin. The Clippers' win streak has featured 9 games against teams that are below .500: beating the Lakers by 10, Jazz by 4, Washington by 17, Charlotte by 5, New Orleans by 6, Sixers by 31, Portland by 11, Charlotte by 14, New Orleans by 3 in Overtime, and Thursday night they beat Miami by 14. And though the first thought may be that these wins are not exactly the basketball equivalent of storming the beaches at Normandy, each and every one of these teams the Clippers beat was a game that Sacramento has either lost, or struggled mightily against recently.
Looking at those same teams, the Kings collapsed earlier this season in an overtime loss to the Hornets, lost to a Wizards squad with seven healthy players, were down 28 in an eventual loss to the Pelicans and lost to both the Sixers and Trailblazers in that horrible close to 2015. If a healthy Sacramento Kings squad had played with the same urgency as a Clippers squad without Blake Griffin and had won those 5 games alone, they would be sitting at the 6th seed in the Western Conference, at virtually the half way point of the season. Consistency is key, and right now the Kings seem to be locked out. That being said, it will be interesting to see how the Clippers come out against the Kings. The Kings have always played up to the Clippers and it's well documented how little DeMarcus Cousins thinks of the Clippers, especially point guard Chris Paul. With the Rockets and Cavs looming for the Clippers next week, and with Blake Griffin's imminent return this could easily be a scenario that the Kings get overlooked by their opponent. Look once more for DeMarcus Cousins to have a big game, especially if starting center Deandre Jordan sits out to further recover from a bout with pneumonia.
Odds and Ends:
This game marks the return of two former Sacramento Kings: small forward Luc Mbah a Moute and center Cole Aldrich. Luc recently settled a spat with the Kings after they voided what would have been his second go-around with the Kings after they found something they didn't like in his physical, specifically in his shoulder. Though the terms weren't announced, Luc said that it was enough to "get a good hamburger at In-n-Out". Cole Aldrich, who played 15 games for the Kings during the 2012-2013, has garnered more playing time of late with the injuries to Griffin, sickness of Jordan and the aloofness of Josh Smith. While he was never dazzling, Cole was a solid bench big for the Kings.
In Thursday night's game against the Miami Heat, Pablo Prigioni played a total of 15 minutes. He had 8 steals. I had something witty to say about this but Pablo Prigioni stole that too.
Prediction: Rondo spends all night piercing the Clippers defense like a lance, DeMarcus hammers down on the rim like a smith forging a sword, and the Kings reenact Princess Bride in LA and play Wesley to the Clippers' Humperdinck:
Kings 110, Clippers 105
For the other side of things, visit our friends at Clips Nation.