Wednesday, April 25, 2012
What to watch: Clippers-Knicks
By Arash Markazi
Clippers (40-25) vs. New York Knicks (34-30) at Madison Square Garden, 5 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Curtain call: With any hope of winning the Pacific Division erased with their loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, the Clippers will now attempt to lock up the No. 4 seed in the West and home court in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. If the Clippers lose, they must hope the Orlando Magic beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday; otherwise they will drop to the No. 5 seed and go on the road to play Memphis in the first round. If the Clippers beat the Knicks they would also finish the season with a 17-16 record on the road, which would be the first time they’ve finished with a .500 or better road record since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.
2. Dynamic duo:Against Atlanta, Blake Griffin had 36 points and eight rebounds and Chris Paul added 34 points and five rebounds. It was only the third time in Clippers franchise history that two players each recorded at least 34 points and five rebounds in the same game. Dominique Wilkins and Ron Harper did it on March 8, 1994 and Michael Brooks and Tom Chambers did it while the team was located in San Diego on April 15, 1982. This season, with Griffin averaging over 20 points and Paul averaging over eight assists per game, the duo is the first set of Clippers teammates with those numbers in the same season since 1993-94. The Clippers have only had six other teammates average at least 20 points and 8 assists per game since 1984-85.
3. Long ball: Knicks forward and former Clipper Steve Novak has scored 83.3 percent of his total points from three point field-goals this season (378 of 454). That is on pace to become the highest such percentage for any player with 300-or-more points in a single season since the NBA instituted the three-point shot in 1979. Entering the 2011-12 season, the highest percentage of total points scored from three pointers in a single season was 79.0 by the Suns’ Dan Majerle in 2001-02 (237 of 300). In other long ball news, Clippers guard Randy Foye had hit at least one three-pointer in 21 straight games before going scoreless against the Hawks on Tuesday.
4. Lob City: The Clippers truly have lived up to the nickname this season. Blake Griffin leads the NBA with 190 dunks and DeAndre Jordan is in the third place with 139 dunks, just three dunks shy of second place. Chris Paul has recorded an assist on 81 of Griffin’s dunks this season. That is by far the highest number of assists on a particular teammate’s dunks in this season. The next highest would be 44 by John Wall on JaVale McGee dunks and Paul on DeAndre Jordan dunks. So the Clippers could finish the season with the top two dunkers in the league and with Paul, not surprisingly, feeding them the ball on most of those dunks.
5. L.A. 500: The Clippers are now 15 games over .500 (40-25). It's only the third time that the Clippers have been more than five games over .500 this many games into a season since moving to L.A. They finished the season eight games over .500 in 1991-92 and 12 games over .500 in 2005-06. Those are the only two seasons in which the Clippers finished over .500 since 1984. This season, the Clippers were 11-4 in January, 8-6 in February, 11-9 in March and currently own a 9-4 record in April. This marks the first time in 33 years that the Clippers have posted a winning record in four consecutive calendar months in a single season. The last time the Clippers did that was in December, January, February and March during the 1978-79 season when the Clippers were in San Diego.