Friday, April 6, 2012
What to watch: Clippers-Kings
By Arash Markazi
Clippers (33-22) vs. Sacramento Kings (19-36) at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Hollywood Griffin: The main storyline in this game is pretty easy. All eyes will be focused on Blake Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins after the two shoved each other, and nearly came to blows in the Clippers' 93-85 win over the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night. After the game, when Griffin refused to discuss the incident, Cousins said, “Of course that's what Blake is going to say because he's in L.A., where actors belong. He's an actor, so of course he would say that." When Cousins was asked about his fifth foul on Griffin with more than a minute left in the game, he said, “I guess the wind from my hand hit him in the eye and I guess he got fouled by the wind. I'm not sure.” Needless to say there may be some unfinished business between the two 48 hours later.
2. Foye on fire: Clippers guard Randy Foye has gone from being viewed as the weak link in the starting lineup, to one of the group’s most consistent performers. He continued his strong run of late in Sacramento on Thursday, scoring a game-high 20 points (7-of-17 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line). Foye has now led the team in scoring in two of the last three games, and is the Clippers second leading scorer behind Griffin in the last six games. In the last six games, Foye is averaging 17.5 points while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.
3. Butler doing it: Foye isn’t the only starter who has picked up his production over the last six games. Over the same stretch, Caron Butler is averaging 14.8 points and 2.0 rebounds while shooting 52.3 percent from field. In the last two games, Butler is shooting 51.7 percent (15-of-29) from the field and 50.0 percent (6-of-12) from three-point range. Butler scored a season-high 28 points on Wednesday against the Lakers, going 9-of-18 from the field, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line while grabbing 4 rebounds in 34 minutes. It was the most points for Butler since he had 30 on Dec. 30, 2010 when the Dallas Mavericks. It was the first time this season Butler has had over 25 points for the Clippers.
4. Blake trending down: Griffin had 14 points (7-of-11 from the field and 0-for-4 from the free-throw line) and nine rebounds on Thursday against Sacramento. It was the third straight game Griffin has scored under 16 points. It is the longest streak of his career that Griffin has not scored 16 or more points. Griffin, however, is still the only player this season in the NBA averaging over 20.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists. Griffin is also shooting 53.8 percent from the floor. In the last 22 years since the 1990-91 season, only four different players have finished a season averaging at least 21 points, 11 rebounds, three assists while shooting over 51 percent from the field. Griffin would be the youngest player to reach those numbers at 23.
5. CP3 to the rescue:In five of his last seven games, Chris Paul has had as many as 10 assists with two or fewer turnovers. No player has had more games with such totals this season. Paul has helped the Clippers rank third in the NBA with 13.36 turnovers per game and are on pace to set the record for the lowest turnover average in franchise history. The lowest turnover average in franchise history was set by the 2007-08 Clippers, who averaged 14.3 turnovers per game. Last season, the Clippers finished the season averaging 16.3 turnovers. Paul has also been a closer for the Clippers this season. In the last five minutes of games with the Clippers within 5 points, Paul is third in the NBA with 119 points.