Los Angeles Clippers: Randy Foye

Report cards: Paul

June, 5, 2012
Here is the final player capsule in our ongoing look at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers, and what's ahead for 2012-2013. We examined every player who finished the season on the roster. Later, we'll look at the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young, Mo Williams, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

Now, we do Chris Paul.

2011-2012 contributions: Chris Paul had a magnificent first season with the Clippers. Maybe his first postseason wasn't as good as expected -- and injuries probably played a role in that -- but he truly was everything the organization could have hoped for in the 60 regular-season games he played. He averaged 19.8 points and 9.1 assists and proved to be a legitimate 3-point threat, taking the most 3-pointers of his career and converting 37 percent of them. Statistically, though, the area Paul shined the brightest was in the category of turnovers. There are players who produce similar numbers of points and assists as Paul, like Nets point guard Deron Williams, but there aren't any who do it while keeping their turnover totals anywhere near Paul's. Williams, for example, averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists but four turnovers per game. The Clippers' point guard just doesn't waste many possessions, and that's one of the reasons why he's so great.

2012-2013 prediction: Oh, man. Next season is really going to dictate a lot for Paul and his future with this organization. You have to assume he'll agree to come back if the Clippers continue making progress like they did this year, but what happens if they stay stagnant and exit early in the playoffs again? That could be trouble. Luckily, there is plenty of reason to believe that the team -- and Paul -- could be better in 2012-2013. Really, there was about a month this year where he wasn't himself because of a balky knee and other nagging injuries, which the lockout-shortened season didn't help. He took about two weeks to get going after Christmas and then struggled for the final two weeks of the postseason. Take those periods away and the season could have gone differently. Paul could also use a more established, more consistent backcourt mate next year, and preferably a legitimate shooting guard, not a point masquerading as one. That wouldn't hurt, either.

Grade: A

Report cards: Foye

May, 30, 2012
Here is the 11th player capsule in our ongoing look back at the 2011-2012 season for the Los Angeles Clippers and forward at the 2012-2013 season. The series runs until next week, examining every player who finished the season on the roster as well as the head coach.

We started with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, quickly moved on to Ryan Gomes and Bobby Simmons and continued with Chauncey Billups, Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Eric Bledsoe, Nick Young and Mo Williams. Now, we start the starting lineup with Randy Foye.

2011-2012 contributions: Well, he definitely did better than last year. After a disappointing 2010-2011 season, Foye proved to actually be a useful player when thrust into a starting role in 2011-2012, hitting 39 percent of his 3-point shots to rank in the top 40 in the NBA. His defense still left a lot to be desired, and there are inherent problems in the way he plays offense: i.e., he doesn't maximize the things he's best at, and he's arguably getting worse at playing to his strengths. Foye is a superb foul shooter, yet he attempted only 85 free throws all season -- good for by far the lowest per-minute rate of his career -- and missed just 12 of them. Part of that is because his role changed into more of a spot-up shooter once Chris Paul arrived in Clipperland, but part of it is also because he just didn't drive into the lane very much.

2012-2013 prediction: It's highly unlikely that Foye will be back with the Clippers next season. He just finished up a two-year, $8.5 million deal, and there's no reason the team would want to bring him back for anything around that money. It's hard to predict what kind of contract he'll fetch on the open market, but at least he put up a better season this year for his financial sake. If he does re-up with the Clippers, it'll likely be (1) a surprise and (2) a short-term, low-value deal struck late in the free-agency process when other opportunities have dried up.

Grade: B-

Video: Williams, Jordan, Foye reflect

May, 23, 2012
PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Here are exit interviews from Monday's media session with three Los Angeles Clippers who filled supporting roles for the 2011-2012 squad behind Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

Guard Mo Williams came into the season expecting to be the team's starting point guard, then quickly found himself third on the pecking order in a matter of days. He reflected on those days and how the season turned out for him, and reiterated his plans to opt in on the final year of his contract for next season.

(Read full post)

How to not turn the ball over

May, 4, 2012

PLAYA VISTA -- The Los Angeles Clippers shot lights-out in Wednesday's Game 2 loss in Memphis.

Seriously, they did. Chris Paul hit 10 of his 17 shots. Blake Griffin hit 9-of-15. Mo Williams and Nick Young combined to make 8 of their 15 attempts as the team shot a combined 56.7 percent. Even Bobby Simmons made 4-of-5 for his best shooting performance since joining the Clippers in February.

Yet, they still lost -- for two primary reasons. For one, they were sizably outrebounded, 37-28 and 16-4 on the offensive glass. And, for another, they turned the ball over 20 times, nearly seven more than their regular-season average.

Memphis did force the most turnovers in the league during the regular season at just over 17, but the Clippers' second-best 13.3 average shows they were typically able to take care of the ball.

Guard Randy Foye said after Friday's practice the Clippers need to revert back to that if they are going to take Game 3 at home on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. PT.

(Read full post)

What to watch: Clippers-Grizzlies

April, 28, 2012

Clippers (40-26) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (41-25) at FedEx Forum, 6:30 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Playoff experience: The Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of last year's playoffs and took the Oklahoma City Thunder to seven games; falling one win short of the Western Conference Finals. Meanwhile three of the five Clippers' starters have never played in a playoff game before. “That’s amazing,” Clippers forward Caron Butler said when informed of that number. “Anything can happen in the playoffs. It’s going to be physical and it’s going to be loud.” The only way for the Clippers to get playoffs experience, of course, is to actually play in the playoffs and Butler believes playoff rookies like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Randy Foye and Eric Bledsoe, will be fine after they first touch the ball. “My first playoff games I wanted to do so many things when I first touched the ball,” Butler said. “I wanted to jab step, I wanted to shoot, I wanted to dunk and lay-up all at once. After that it was OK. You just have to take a deep breath and be patient.”

2. Turning the page: The first thing the Clippers and Grizzlies must do come Sunday night is forget about the regular season and how bad (Clippers) or how well (Grizzlies) finished the season. The Clippers finished the season losing three of their last four games while the Grizzlies come into the postseason winning six straight. Their records down the stretch enabled the Grizzlies to steal homecourt advantage from the Clippers, which was still on the minds of some players before they left for Memphis, knowing they could have easily been staying home for Games 1 and 2. “We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Clippers forward Kenyon Martin. "We know that…. Win any one of those games and we'd get home court. Games early in the season come back to bite you late in the season."

3. Foul mood: The Clippers and Blake Griffin have complained about the hard fouls Griffin has been taking this season and Griffin anticipates it only getting worse in the playoffs as he prepares to face Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Marreese Speights. “I heard it gets a lot more physical,” Griffin said. “We’ll see. I have to keep an open mind and get a feel for the first game… If it gets any more [physical] I might not make it. I know it’s going to be physical but I can’t imagine it getting a whole lot more physical than it’s been but I’m ready for that.” Butler said the playoffs will be more physical for everyone and every player has to prepare for the increased intensity. “We just have to be prepared for the challenge,” Butler said. “We have to protect ourselves, be padded up and be ready to go.”

4. Getting defensive: The first thing teams have to be prepared for when they face the Grizzlies is their suffocating defense and ability to essentially take a sledge hammer to your offensive plans. The Grizzlies topped the NBA in steals (9.6) and forced turnovers (17.1) after leading each category last season, becoming the first team to lead the league in both steals per game and forced turnovers per game for consecutive seasons since the 1995-96 and 1996-97 Seattle SuperSonics. “They try to muck everything up,” Clippers guard Randy Foye said. “They try to make everything chaotic. They try to pressure you and make you do things you don’t want to do. They want to make every possession a dog fight. They want to grind everything out and make you take the shot that they want you to take not the shot you want to take.”

5. Turning point: Last month the Clippers were left for dead after they lost three games in three days but they reeled six straight wins and won 13 of 15 games after blowing out the Grizzlies at home, 101-85, on March 24. The win salvaged the Clippers season and probably saved Vinny Del Negro his job. The Clippers win at home also underscored how important homecouurt could be in this series. The Clippers won their first two games against Memphis at home and lost their most recent match-up on the road. While the Grizzlies have won 10 straight at home and haven’t lost a game at the FedEx Forum in over a month, the Clippers have lost their last three games on the road and finished the season with a below .500 record away from home.

Video: Clippers prepare for first round

April, 27, 2012
PLAYA VISTA -- Here are video interviews with coach Vinny Del Negro and a number of the Los Angeles Clippers following their practice Friday in preparation for their first-round NBA playoffs matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Del Negro appeared as confident as ever and joked with reporters before and after his meeting with the media. He also indicated that rest and time between games isn't as important in the playoffs as it is in the regular season.

Guard Chris Paul provided an update on his status for Sunday's series opener, since he did not practice on Friday. He also talked about the process of preparing for a playoff series and what being in one means for the city of L.A.

Guard Mo Williams talked about the entirely different dynamic evident in playoff games as compared to the regular season, and he said most of it is based on attention to detail.

Forward Caron Butler emphasized how excited he was to take part in the 2012 NBA playoffs after sitting out throughout the Dallas Mavericks' playoff run a season ago. And he had interesting things to say about how NBA teams and players paid special attention to staying healthy this year.

Guard Randy Foye said film study is key this time of year. The Clippers, Foye said, have to know everything there is to know about Memphis by the time Sunday's Game 1 comes around.

10 reasons to be excited the Clippers are in the playoffs

April, 27, 2012

1. This simply hasn't happened very often. It is the Clippers' fifth playoff appearance since 1976 and first since 2006. When things that don't happen do happen, celebration and excitement typically are in order. This is one of those situations.

2. Chris Paul. The Clippers' new point guard and fearless leader has proved time and again -- with this team and in previous years -- to be an ideal closer, perfect for playoff situations. He's arguably been the best closer of any star in the league this season, and fans in L.A. are well aware of it.

3. The Clippers beat Memphis, their first-round opponent, in two of three meetings this season, including a 16-point smashing in L.A. in March that was one of the team's best performances. The Clippers may not have home-court advantage, but they might at least have the matchup advantage -- albeit by a small amount.

4. Plus, San Antonio -- the Clips’ likely opponent if they get by Memphis –- isn’t a terrible team for them to face either. The squads have met three times this season: The Spurs won the first game, way back in December, by 25. But the Clippers won the third (with Tony Parker hurt) and they took San Antonio to overtime in the in-between game. It'd be unlikely that L.A. could pull off the upset, but not impossible.

5. Three key supporting-cast Clippers have 25 or more playoff starts under their belts in Kenyon Martin, Mo Williams and Caron Butler. Sure, that is in contrast to the lack of postseason experience of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Randy Foye. But the 25-plus starts are also more than any single Memphis player can boast, so the Clippers will not be out-experienced in the first round.

6. Memphis gets its points from a variety of sources – Rudy Gay was the only Grizzlies player to average 15 or more points this season. You can’t really say that about the two-headed tandem of the Clippers, especially of late, but, in looking back at the three L.A.-Memphis matchups this year, the Clippers did a good job of spreading around the scoring. Seven current Clippers have averaged at least eight points against the Grizz this year.

7. Expectations are not all that high. If the Clippers make the second round and lose, there probably won’t be too many cries of disappointment. The refrain would be that they needed some time to get used to each other and were hurt by their new additions and injuries. They may just play loose, with a sense of nothing to lose.

8. The fact that the Clippers have to start out on the road is going to give many fans serious misgivings, and rightfully so. But at least realize this about the team's away-from-home struggles this season: They were a little bit alleviated as the year went on. It took the Clips more than a month to record a road win over a playoff-caliber team, but they started to do it more and more in March and April. You could argue that the Clippers' biggest problem won't be stealing one on the road but actually sealing down all three at home.

9. Zach Randolph. The Grizzlies forward serves as a reminder of how far this franchise has come in the last three years. Since the Clippers won the lottery 35 months ago and earned the right to select Griffin, so many things have changed. Among those changes was the status of Randolph, whom the Clippers dealt to Memphis a week after the draft. He went from being acquired by the team to being the team's leading scorer to being traded away in a matter of a half-year.

10. Remember the last time the Clippers made the playoffs, after the 2005-2006 season? It was actually a pretty good run back then. They beat the Nuggets in five games despite being on the short end of a 3-6 matchup, then gave the 2-seed Phoenix Suns a great run for their money in the Western Conference semifinals. A thing or two done differently in Game 5 that year and the Clippers might have been going against the Dallas Mavericks in the conference finals for the right to face the Miami Heat. So, strange as it seems, history might actually be something the Clippers can lean on this time around.

Clippers choose health over home court

April, 25, 2012

We won't know for around two weeks whether the Los Angeles Clippers' decision to rest Chris Paul and his injured groin in Wednesday's regular-season finale against the New York Knicks was savvy or stupid, but we do know one thing right away.

It was risky -- very risky.

In sitting Paul and losing 99-93 to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Clippers have now handed over control for home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs to their opponents, the Memphis Grizzlies. As long as the Grizzlies win at home against Orlando on Thursday -- likely considering the Magic are already locked into the No. 6 seed in the East -- the Clippers are going to open up the playoffs in Memphis.

If they go on to suffer, say, a six- or seven-game series loss at the hands of the Grizzlies, the Clippers could have Wednesday's loss to blame. The Knicks didn't even play their starters late in the game, in a clear indication they didn't need to win. There's a definite argument they'd be better be off losing and taking the No. 8 seed and a first-round matchup with Chicago rather than the No. 7 seed and a date with Miami.

But the Clippers did need to win. Heck, they needed to win each of their last three road games at Phoenix, Atlanta and New York, or at least one of the three, and they couldn't win any. They finished the regular season with an under-.500 record on the road -- 16 wins and 17 losses.

So it'll be hard to feel confident in their chances against the Grizzlies if they indeed have to start out on the road. They beat Memphis twice this year, but both wins came at Staples Center. The Clippers lost by nine in Memphis earlier this month.

(Read full post)

Randy at the ready

April, 23, 2012
By Ramona Shelburne

In the first hours and days after the Clippers acquired Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets last December, no fewer than half a dozen players had reason to be a little or a lot miffed. Half of those players -- Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and Chris Kaman -- were on a bus for a charity function when they learned they were headed out of town on the first plane to New Orleans, so at the very least whatever bruised feelings weren't the Clippers problem anymore.

Who else had cause for consternation? Point guard Mo Williams had spent the offseason fashioning himself into a team leader. Chauncey Billups had spent last season hearing about Paul as savior of the New York Knicks, only to see him become the savior of the Clippers just when he was making peace with being claimed off waivers when he preferred to become a free agent?

Then there was Randy Foye. From the outside, on the list of guys whose ego needed to be soothed after the trade, he barely registers. But within the Clippers organization, there was genuine concern.

Foye had accepted less money to sign with the Clippers in the summer of 2010 because he thought he'd have a defined role. He chose them as much as they chose him. And in his first season with the club, he filled that role well: Be a solid character guy, push young guard Eric Gordon, score off the bench, don't rock the boat.

Now, with his contract up at the end of the season, Foye was relegated to fourth-string duty. The backup behind Paul, Billups and Williams.

General manager Neil Olshey told me more than once how he felt bad that the trades put Foye in this situation after he'd had the same thing happen to him in Minnesota (when it made a run on guards in the 2009 draft) and Washington (when it landed the right to pick John Wall in the 2010 draft).

But Foye took it as he always has.

"There really wasn't time [to get upset]," he said after his six 3-pointers keyed the Clippers 107-98 win over the Hornets on Sunday night. "To tell you the truth I wasn't looking for a pep talk. I'm a grown man. I understand that things happen. This is a crazy league. My whole thing is that I was going to continue to work no matter what."

A lot of players say things like that when put in situations like Foye was. Very few of them really mean it.

And after what he's been through elsewhere -- the Clippers are his fifth organization since being drafted fifth overall out of Villanova in 2006 -- this was just another thing that could have made Foye salty.

It just didn't.

"I think it's just where I'm at now," he said. "All that stuff from the past is history. I want to win. And I want to be the best player I can be, and the best player I can to help this team."

For the first two months of the year that meant staying ready and staying quiet. But after Billups was lost for the season to a torn Achilles, that meant starting.

"I just kind of stayed with it," he said. "I continued to work and understood that -- while you never want injuries to happen -- with the condensed schedule, games every single day, that you had to be ready no matter what."

Instead of pouting, he worked on his outside shot. A lot.

"Thousands of shots,'' he said, shaking his head. "All the time after practice."

Foye has made a career-high 123 3-pointers this seasons, and Sunday evening he hit six those 3s, including three consecutive 3s as they rallied in the fourth quarter in a game they had to have to maintain home court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.

What does this season mean for Foye going forward? He is, after all, in the last year of a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the team.

"I really don't think about that stuff. It's written," he said. "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen.

"I think I've done enough this year [to prove himself as an NBA player]. But I think I still have a lot more work, too. I still have a lot more things that I can and will get better at."

Young gets motivation from Durant

April, 17, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- As soon as Nick Young got into the game Monday night with two-plus minutes to go in the first quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder, OKC forward Kevin Durant made sure he was feeling a little anxious.

"You can't guard me," Durant told Young, which the Clippers' swingman relayed after the game. "You can't guard me."

Young took offense and put together arguably his best defensive effort since being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers a month ago at the trade deadline. It was also -- maybe not coincidentally -- by far his best offensive game since returning home to L.A.

He put together a solid effort against Durant and the Thunder in last week's win in Oklahoma City, but this was one better by all accounts.

In 21 minutes Monday, Young shot lights-out, scoring 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. From the time he entered into the game for Caron Butler until the final buzzer, Young actually outscored Durant in fewer minutes.

Speaking after the game, he said he could take two things away from his personal performance in Monday's 92-77 Clippers' win: For one, he plays better when he thinks less, and, for two, he plays better when people tell him he can't guard them.

"I guess he heard in the papers that I was locking him up," Young said of Durant. "So that kind of motivated me."

Durant, who was whistled for a double technical foul with the Clippers' Mo Williams, late in the second quarter, wasn't the only one talking abnormal amounts of trash. Young said he started talking back more and more as the game went on, and several Clippers players noted chippy exchanges at various points in the game.

(Read full post)

Non-stars lead Clippers to road win

April, 5, 2012
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul combined to score only 27 points, but the Los Angeles Clippers still pulled off a 93-85 win on the road against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night.

Griffin and Paul's totals were the fifth-lowest the two have posted in a game this season and the lowest of any game all season where they both reached their season average for minutes. The other four games where Paul and Griffin scored 20, 23, 23 and 25 were all double-digit margin contests.

So how did the Clippers beat the Kings in a close game without their stars? Simple: Randy Foye, Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe.

The perimeter trio combined to score 47 points on 50 percent shooting, tiding the Clippers over while Paul struggled through an awful shooting night and Griffin struggled with DeMarcus Cousins' physicality. It's not the most high-profile tandem, but all three have been effective at times this season. When they're effective together -- with Nick Young a possibility, too -- the Clippers can afford less-than-stellar performances from their stars.

Of course, Thursday's game was against Sacramento, one of the five or six worst teams in the NBA. But the Kings aren't terrible at home -- entering the game, they were above .500 at Power Balance Pavilion, with home wins against three probable playoff teams last month, and a home win over Oklahoma City the month before that.

(Read full post)

Proof the Clips have rebounded

April, 2, 2012

Sure, the Dallas Mavericks were without both Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom in Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

But the Clippers didn't beat the Mavs solely because those two were absent. The Clippers hammered Dallas 94-75 because they played a much better game than the defending champions did -- and a more complete one.

This victory effectively validates the Clippers' recent winning streak, which has now stretched to six, the longest since 1992 for the beleaguered franchise. But three of the five wins before Monday night had come against sub-.500 teams, two of which were also missing a key player.

Dallas is comfortably over .500, despite its dismal start to the 2011-12 season, and would have been in position to face the Clips in a 4-5 first-round matchup had they beat them Monday night. So this one meant something.

Randy Foye, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin would have none of that, with Foye connecting on a franchise-record-tying eight 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 28 points. Paul played through an injured elbow to accumulate double-digit assists for the fifth time in the six-game win streak, and Griffin shot an efficient 7-of-11 from the field and added 16 rebounds.

Defensively, it's hard to tell how well the Clippers played because Dallas shot so horribly, but it's clear that L.A. played at least serviceable defense. Their rotations have been better of late, and there was no reason to think they took a step back in that category Monday night.

"Sometimes you just get your a-- kicked that bad," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said in his postgame press conference at the American Airlines Center.

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Foye comes through in larger role

March, 30, 2012
The Clippers probably didn't envision Randy Foye leading their team in shot attempts on several occasions this season, but it has become a common occurrence this month.

He led the Clips with 16 field-goal attempts in Friday's win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the fourth time he has done so in March. And he tied for the team-high with 20 points by making seven of those 16 attempts, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range.

Some perspective: It took Foye until the fifth game of the 2011-2012 season to reach 20 total points scored. The 6-foot-4 sharp-shooter's role has increased significantly as the season has gone on, and Friday's game was a good showcase for it.

After pouring in 12 points in 10 second-quarter minutes and adding five more in the third, Foye found himself with the ball on the perimeter and the Clippers down by two in the final minute. Chris Paul had passed it to him out of a timeout and Foye shot it with little hesitation, even with Portland's J.J. Hickson not far from him and coming closer.

"I just shot the ball," Foye said. "It seemed like as soon as he threw the ball to me everything was in slow motion, and I just shot the ball and held my follow-through."

He hit it to give the Clippers their first lead in nearly six minutes. Paul had to hit a layup on the next possession to win the game because of Jamal Crawford's high-arching jumper in Foye's face that followed it, but the shot from Foye was key in the outcome.

"Randy is a rhythm player," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said after the game. "The guys and myself have confidence in Randy.

"Getting that type of production from him is very important for us."

It was the third time this month that Foye shot 5-of-10 from deep, matching his best performance of the season. They'd lost both of those games, but Foye's Friday performance moved the team to 2-2 in March games where he led the team in scoring.

"He's played well for us -- really well for us -- all season," said teammate Blake Griffin. "That shot was huge. He's won a lot of games for us and he's helped us win a lot of games, so we love him out there."

Chris Paul's old coach talks leadership

March, 26, 2012
Monty Williams coached Chris Paul for one season with the New Orleans Hornets, for a total of 88 regular season and playoff contests, including a first-round playoff exit to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In that span, he learned all about Paul, he says. He learned why he's been so successful in the NBA and why he has a reputation as such a fierce competitor on the court. He also learned why he doesn't necessarily mesh with every single teammate.

And Williams said that's one of the reasons why the Clippers haven't had as much success as many expected them to this season.

"It takes a while to learn how to play with Chris," Williams, still the Hornets' coach, said before Monday night's game against the Clippers. "Those guys are still trying to figure it out. He's a leader, and a lot of guys don't want to be led. They talk like they do, but they really don't.

"Everybody wants to lead until things get tough -- he leads all the time."

Paul led his team quite well in Monday's win over New Orleans, with 25 points, 10 assists and four steals, all game-highs. And he shot 9-of-17 from the field in logging a game-high 35 minutes.

(Read full post)

What to watch: Clippers-Hornets

March, 22, 2012
Clippers (26-20) vs. New Orleans Hornets (11-35) at New Orleans Arena, 5 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Coming home: When Chris Paul was traded from the Hornets to the Clippers for Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Aminu and a first-round draft pick more than three months ago, the first game Paul circled on the schedule was his first trip back to New Orleans. It will be an emotional night for Paul, who is hosting 150 kids and parents from his CP3 Afterschool Zone at the game, and will be seeing many of his old teammates and friends for the first time since being traded. At his introductory news conference in Los Angeles, he mentioned his former teammates and the children from the program before talking about his new team. “Going to New Orleans is going to be tough,” Paul said. “It will be cool because I have a lot of family and friends there but it will be a little odd. I had to do it at some point.”

2. Scoring slump: For the eighth straight game, the Clippers failed to score 100 points. For the second straight game, they allowed a team to score more than 100 points. In other words, this is a team that can’t score and can’t defend right now, which is never a good combination. The Clippers have hit the century mark twice in their last 13 games, and their record in their last 18 games is 7-11. This season, the Clippers are 16-3 when scoring more than 100 points and 10-16 when scoring less than 100. Reaching the century mark on the road is even more critical for the Clippers, as they are 9-1 when they score at least 100 and 2-10 when they don’t.

3. Know your role: The Clippers’ inability to develop a consistent rotation was again on display against the Thunder. Randy Foye, who had been the Clippers' starting shooting guard for 28 games after Chauncey Billups was lost for the season last month, was benched in favor of newly acquired swingman Nick Young against Indiana. Foye was the only player on the Clippers' active roster who did not play in the game. Well, 24 hours later, he was back in the starting lineup and scored 23 points in 35 minutes. Judging by the Clippers’ recent rotation inconsistencies, it’s entirely possible he might not see the floor against New Orleans on Thursday night.

4. Butler out: Foye started against Oklahoma City because Caron Butler was a healthy scratch for the game, but he'll likely be back in the starting lineup against the Hornets. Sitting Butler might not just have been for his health during the team's last back-to-back-to-back of the season. He has been in a slump after being one of the key players for the Clippers at the start of the season. Through the first 25 games of the season, the Clippers were 17-8 and Butler was averaging 15.3 points while shooting 44 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from three-point range. In his last 18 games, however, the Clippers are 8-10 and Butler is averaging 8.1 points, and shooting 31.1 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from behind the arc.

5. Bench problems: One of the biggest weaknesses for the Clippers this season, despite their acquisitions of Young and Kenyon Martin, has been their bench. After being outscored 50-23 in Indiana, they were outscored 37-24 in Oklahoma City. The only player on the bench who scored more than four points in either game was Mo Williams, who averaged 11.5 points in both. Williams is averaging 13.8 points and 2.0 assists this season and has accounted for more than 51 percent of the Clippers’ bench production. Martin and Reggie Evans are usually good for a couple of put-backs and Eric Bledsoe usually provides one fast-break layup, but there has been no consistent production from the Clippers’ bench outside of Williams this season.