January 17, 2015

Straying from what had been working resulted in one of the Los Angeles Clippers' poorest offensive performances their last time out.

Facing the high-scoring Sacramento Kings on Friday night, a repeat effort would likely spell further trouble.

Los Angeles (37-20) had been rolling offensively behind a game plan balancing its strong outside shooting with high-percentage looks to DeAndre Jordan in the post. It deviated sharply from that strategy Wednesday against Denver with a franchise-record 46 attempts from 3-point range while Jordan, the NBA's field-goal percentage leader (69.1), had just five shots.

The Clippers made 13 of those 3s and shot 35.3 percent overall - their second-lowest mark of the season - in losing 87-81 at home to the non-contending Nuggets.

"You have to give them a lot of credit for playing hard, but at the same time, we have to win games like this," point guard Chris Paul said. "It was kind of flat out there, kind of dead. In these tight games, we have to win."

Coach Doc Rivers didn't have much of an issue with his team's shot selection, attributing the outcome to simply an off night.

"We played with the right intentions," he said. "We missed wide-open shot after wide-open shot. It's going to happen."

Los Angeles went 13 of 24 from beyond the arc in Monday's 124-84 rout of Phoenix and had shot 43.5 percent from deep in its previous four games.

Another perimeter-oriented approach may in the works Friday, considering Sacramento (24-32) has allowed a league-high 598 3-pointers and the Clippers are still without Blake Griffin, who totaled 70 points in two October wins over the Kings but missed a 110-103 home loss Jan. 16 due to a partially torn quadriceps.

Los Angeles will have to hit those shots, however, to succeed against the league's third-highest scoring team. That wasn't the case in the previous meeting, when the Clippers shot 39.6 percent after making a combined 51.9 percent of their attempts in the two wins.

The Clippers have won six straight in Sacramento and 18 of the series' last 22 matchups, and they're an NBA-best 12-3 on the road since Christmas.

Sacramento averaged 114.7 points during a three-game win streak it brought into Wednesday's matchup with San Antonio, but it had a far tougher time against the Spurs' stout defense in a 108-92 loss. DeMarcus Cousins was held to 22 points on 8-of-23 shooting after the All-Star center scored 37 and 39 in consecutive victories over Denver out of the All-Star break.

"You're looking at a championship team that's probably going to play for the Western Conference finals," coach George Karl said. "Their defense is in the top echelon of the league, maybe the best defense in the league right now."

The Clippers have been very solid in that area as well, having limited 10 of their last 13 opponents to 93 points or less. They're second in the NBA in scoring defense (96.5) and third in field-goal percentage defense (42.7) during that stretch.

Sacramento stands on the other side of the spectrum, surrendering a league-high 109.1 points per game. The Kings have allowed 107 or more in 13 straight.

You May Like