Stats & Info: Los Angeles Clippers

Clippers, Paul face unique offseason

May, 16, 2014
May 16
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Richard Rowe/NBAE via Getty ImagesChris Paul and the Clippers have never made a Conference Finals.
Thursday night the Los Angeles Clippers were eliminated by the Thunder. In nine career seasons, Chris Paul has never made a Conference Finals. It will be a unique offseason for Paul and the entire team dealing with uncertainty in regards to the owner of the franchise.

The good news is that their talented nucleus is already signed through next season.

CP3 Heads Home Early
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Chris Paul’s seven All-Star appearances are tied for the fifth-most all-time for any player before appearing in their first Conference Finals.

Chris Paul has often been compared to some of the great point guards in NBA history. However his playoff track record doesn’t add up.

He has a postseason win percentage of .415 (22 wins, 31 losses). That number is significantly lower than Hall of Fame point guards Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson and John Stockton.

Speaking of great point guards, Paul is also one of seven players in NBA history to have 6,000 assists through their first nine seasons, according to Elias. Of those players, Paul is the only one not to reach the Conference Finals over that time span.

Looking Forward to Next Season
The current nucleus of the Clippers will still be under contract in the 2014-15 season.

Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick and Matt Barnes were the five-man unit that played the most minutes together for the Clippers in the postseason. All five of them will be back next season (barring a trade).

Looking towards free agency, the Clippers have $66.3 million dollars worth of guaranteed contracts on the books next season. Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Glen Davis all have player options while Ryan Hollins and Hedo Turkoglu are unrestricted free agents.

With the luxury tax projected to climb to $77 million next season, the Clippers best free agency tool this offseason will likely be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (can sign any free agent to a contract with a starting salary up to $5.3M)

Upcoming Draft Picks
The Clippers currently hold only the 28th overall draft pick in the 2014 draft, as their second round pick was traded to the San Antonio Spurs. Also, their 2015 first round draft pick will be sent to the Boston Celtics as compensation for acquiring Doc Rivers.

The Clippers in this draft may want to emulate the Spurs, who took Tony Parker in 2001 and Tiago Splitter in 2007 with the 28th pick. Some other notable players drafted 28th overall are Norris Cole, Leandro Barbosa, Ian Mahinmi and Greivis Vasquez.

Next Level nuggets from Saturday

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
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It was a wild opening to the NBA playoffs. Three of the four games were won by road teams, just the second time in NBA history that three road teams won Game 1 of the First Round on the first day of the postseason. It also happened in 1996.

Playoff games are all about matchups. Here are the biggest ones from the four Saturday games.

Nets 94, Raptors 87

Paul Pierce
Pierce
The story of this game was Paul Pierce, who scored nine of his 15 points in the 4th quarter. Seven of those nine points were scored when Patrick Patterson was the primary defender.

DeMar DeRozan, however, had a much more disappointing day. He was 3-for-13 from the floor, including 1-for-9 on jump shots.

DeRozan averaged 9.6 points per game on jump shots during the regular season, tied for seventh best in the NBA..

Warriors 109, Clippers 105

Chris Paul scored 28 points Saturday, but struggled with Klay Thompson as his primary defender. Paul missed his first eight shots when guarded by Thompson, who also forced three of his six turnovers.

But Doc Rivers and the Clippers shouldn't want Paul to score that much. They now have seven wins and five losses this season when Paul scores 25 points or more. They're 37-12 when Paul scores fewer than 25.

Hawks 101, Pacers 93

Jeff Teague helped to snap the Hawks eight-game road playoff losing streak, scoring 28 points, a new playoff career high. 78 percent of his field goal attempts came on drives, and he scored 20 points on those shots (including free throws).

Teague averaged just 5.6 points per game on drives during the regular season.

Roy Hibbert, however, continued to struggle. Hibbert was 4-for-9 from the floor Saturday and has not made a shot outside the paint since April 4.

In his first 77 games this season, he shot 40 percent on such shots.

Thunder 100, Grizzlies 86

Kevin Durant
Durant
Kevin Durant had 33 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. That makes nine straight postseason games where Durant had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, tied for the fourth-longest streak in NBA history.

The only Grizzlies player that could contain Durant Saturday was Tony Allen. He held Durant to 13 points on 5-of-14 shooting (36 percent) Saturday, but Durant scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting (73 percent) against everyone else.

But we all knew Durant is good and would be tough to stop. What we didn't know was how bad the Grizzlies would be outside of the paint.

Memphis missed its first 18 shots from outside the paint Saturday before hitting their last attempt of the second quarter. The Thunder outscored the Grizzlies 23-3 outside the paint in the first half, making up most of Memphis' 22-point halftime deficit.

A rare matchup of point guards

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
2:11
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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsThe Warriors-Clippers series could be decided at the point guard spot.
The NBA playoffs kick off Saturday afternoon and one of the more intriguing first round matchups will take place in Los Angeles.

The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers have already exchanged pre-series barbs making it clear the two teams are not fond of one another. But this series should be just as entertaining on the court, as it features two of the league’s best point guards – Chris Paul and Stephen Curry.

Elite point guards
Paul and Curry both averaged at least 19 points and eight assists per game this season.

The last time two point guards faced off in the playoffs with such averages? The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that it was in 1991.

That would be Magic Johnson and Tim Hardaway. The two faced off in the 1991 Western Conference Semifinals, with the Lakers winning the series four games to one.

And the point guards did not disappoint. In game two of that series, the Warriors won 125-124 with Hardaway totaling 28 points, 14 assists and eight steals. Johnson? Well he put up 44 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in the loss.

Postseason form
Curry and Paul have stepped their games up during the playoffs.

Last postseason, Curry averaged 23.4 points per game and 8.1 assists, while making 3.5 three-pointers per game. That is the third-highest single postseason average all-time (minimum five games in that postseason).

Most memorable was Curry’s 44-point, 11-assist performance in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Spurs last season.

Paul, on the other hand, is one of two players all-time with averages of 20 points and nine assists per game in the playoffs (Deron Williams).

Inside the matchup
There are a few key spots in which this matchup could be determined.

Curry averages an NBA-high 10.3 pull-up shots per game, shooting 43.6 percent on such shots according to NBA.com player tracking.

Turnovers, however, have been an issue for Curry. He was tied for the league-lead, averaging 3.8 turnovers per game this season. That bodes well for Paul, as he led the NBA averaging 2.5 steals per game. In fact, during their first meeting this season, Curry committed 11 turnovers and Paul had six steals.

This season Paul averaged an NBA-best 8.8 points per game as the pick-and-roll ball handler. That could be a way in which Paul could exploit Curry’s defense. For example, in Game 5 of the 2013 Western Conference semifinals, the Spurs made 11-of-16 shots and scored 30 points when Curry was the on-ball defender.

Two of the West's best face off in L.A.

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
2:56
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Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty ImagesKevin Durant's streak might be over, but he will look to get the best of the Clippers Wednesday night.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will be in L.A. to face the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. These teams have been two of the NBA's best this season, but lately they have been heading in different directions.

The Clippers are 18-3 over their past 21 games, outscoring opponents by 10.6 points per game. Oklahoma City, on the other hand, entered the All-Star break at 43-12 but is 13-9 since.

The Thunder have lost three of their past four road games, whereas the Clippers have won nine of their past 10 home games.

The streak is over, but still much to be done
Kevin Durant’s streak of scoring at least 25 points ended Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings. The 41-game streak is the third-longest single-season streak in NBA history.

But there is still plenty for Durant to accomplish this season.

He is averaging 32.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Durant is seeking to become the fourth player in NBA history to average at least 32 points, 7 boards and 5 assists in a single season.

Leading Carmelo Anthony by 4.5 points per game, Durant is a virtual lock to become the fifth player in NBA history to win at least four scoring titles. His per-game lead over Anthony would be the third-largest gap between first and second in scoring average dating to 1969-70.

A new vibe in L.A.
The Clippers’ first season in Los Angeles was 1984-85. From that point through the 2010-11 season, they posted a .349 win percentage -- worst in the league during that span.

Since trading for Chris Paul, they have won nearly 67 percent of their games, the fourth-best mark in the NBA. And this season is no different.

Last year, the Clippers set a franchise record with 56 wins. They are at 55 wins with four games to play this season.

Thunder cooling off?
A main reason for the drop-off from the Thunder's pre-All-Star pace has been Oklahoma City's defensive struggles.

The Thunder allowed 99.3 points per 100 possessions before the break (third best), but have yielded 104.6 since (14th). Opponents are cashing in at the 3-point line, making 9.7 per game on an efficient 39.5 percent shooting, both of which rank second highest in the league during that span.

In losses, the defense has failed Oklahoma City even more. The Thunder are allowing 116.2 points per game in losses since the All-Star break.

Tuesday night, the Thunder beat the Kings, but that doesn't necessarily bode well for them. Oklahoma City is 7-6 on zero days' rest this season.

Series matchup
The Clippers are 2-1 against the Thunder this season, but Durant has had his way with L.A.

Durant is averaging 34.3 points and 9.3 assists in the three games against the Clippers this season. He has scored 30 or more points in five of the past six meetings between the teams.

Similar styles set to clash in L.A.

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
2:19
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AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillThe Clippers and Rockets like to get out and run, as they both rank in the top five in transition scoring.
The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers meet for a third time this season Wednesday night (ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET), and chances are the match-up will be fun to watch.

Off to the races
There will be no shortage of high-flying dunks and fast breaks, as the Clippers and Rockets rank one and two in the league in dunks, respectively. They also play at almost the same exact pace and both rank in the top five in the league in transition scoring.

James Harden scored 20 of his 43 points in transition Tuesday night against the Kings, adding to his league-leading average of 7.8 points per game in transition.

The Clippers have been able to keep Harden in check this season, though. In the first two matchups against the Clippers this season, Harden scored 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting in transition.

Blake Griffin leads the Clippers, and all NBA power forwards/centers in transition points and assists this season.

Streaking
The Rockets enter Wednesday night’s game as one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

Houston is an NBA-best 18-5 since January 1. Fresh off a 26-point win against the Sacramento Kings, the Rockets have won 10 of its last 11 overall.

The Rockets entered January sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference. But Houston now sits in third place after a couple hot months and is one-and-a-half games back of the San Antonio Spurs.

Repeat performance?
The Clippers are 2-0 this season against the Rockets, winning by an average of 16.0 points per game.

Los Angeles found success against the Rockets by shooting well from long range, as well as having a balanced attack.

The Clippers averaged 12.0 three point field goals per game and show 38.7 percent from that distance in the first two meetings. Houston averaged 7.0 three point field goals and shot just 27.5 percent from that range.

In those two meetings four Clippers averaged 18+ points per game – J.J. Redick (24.0), Griffin (20.0), Jamal Crawford (18.5) and Chris Paul (18.5). Paul also dished out 15.0 assists per game.

L.A.’s success against Houston extends beyond this season, as the Clippers have won seven of their last eight games against the Rockets.

Clippers run away from Thunder

February, 23, 2014
Feb 23
5:19
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Kevin Durant did something that he had never done in his career before today, but it was not enough as the Clippers beat the Thunder 125-117 in Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon.

The Clippers handed the Thunder their second straight home loss, just the second time that OKC has lost consecutive games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena this season.

Los Angeles avoided its third straight loss and still has not lost three games in a row this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the furthest into any season that the Braves/Clippers franchise has gone without a three-game losing streak.

What were the keys to the Clippers second win in their last six games against the Thunder?

Clippers on the run
The Clippers were at their best when pushing the pace, tying a season-high with 34 fastbreak points, including 27 in the first half. They made 13 of 14 shots on the break, turning it over just once. The Clippers are averaging 17.8 fastbreak points per game, third-most in the league.

It was the most fastbreak points the Thunder have allowed in more than five years, since the Phoenix Suns had 37 against them on February 20, 2009.

Paul dishes to Crawford, Barnes
Chris Paul created 30 points off 12 assists Sunday. According to NBA.com player-tracking data, Paul leads the NBA creating 25.1 points per game.

The main beneficiaries from his assists were Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes who knocked down five shots apiece.

Crawford and Barnes combined for 33 points from behind the arc Sunday, finding particular success when those shots were guarded. Crawford shot 5 of 8 and Barnes shot 4 of 5. Entering the game, the duo had shot a combined 33.5 percent on three-pointers.

A first for Durant
Durant finished the game with 42 points and 10 assists, the first time he’s ever reach those totals in a game.

He is just the second player in Thunder/Sonics history with a 40-10 game, joining Gary Payton, who had two such games according to Elias.

Durant now has nine 40-point games this season. No other player even has five of those.

Durant’s aggressiveness keyed his scoring outburst, driving to the basket 11 times while scoring 15 of his 40 points on those drives. Entering the game, Durant was averaging only six drive points on 5.7 drives per game.

Thunder go cold from mid-range
The Thunder made only 7 of 24 attempts from the mid-range area, tied for their third-worst percentage in a game this season. The Thunder lead the league in mid-range shooting this season, making 44 percent of their shots.

Los Angeles has been effective in limiting the Thunder's mid-range accuracy this season, as two of the Thunder’s four worst shooting games from this area have come against the Clippers.

All-Star cast: The case for Ibaka, Jordan

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
5:07
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Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsSerge Ibaka has made a name for himself as one of the best shot blockers in the league.
The NBA will announce its full All-Star Game rosters on Thursday, and a number of players have made a case to make their first appearance in the game. ESPN Stats & Information is taking a five-part look at these players.

1. The Future, Part I (John Wall and Anthony Davis)
2. The Future, Part II (DeMarcus Cousins, Lance Stephenson, Damian Lillard)
3. Emerging Talent, Part I (DeMar DeRozan, Ty Lawson)
4. Emerging Talent, Part II (Serge Ibaka, DeAndre Jordan)
5. The Veterans (Mike Conley, Arron Afflalo, Kyle Lowry)

Here is Part II of our look at emerging talent, where we explore the cases for Serge Ibaka and DeAndre Jordan to be named to the All-Star Game.

Serge Ibaka
Serge Ibaka is referred to as “Iblocka” by his teammates because of his elite shot-blocking abilities. Ibaka ranks third in the NBA this season, swatting 2.6 shots per game.

Ibaka leads the NBA with 115 blocks this season and has led the NBA in blocked shots in each of the last three seasons. Since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74, the only other player to do that was Dikembe Mutombo, who led the NBA in total blocks five straight seasons from 1993-94 to 1997-98.

Among players who defend at least five field goal attempts at the rim per game and have played at least 30 games this season, Ibaka ranks fourth in the league in opponents’ field goal percentage (43.2 percent), according to NBA.com player-tracking data.

Injuries to Russell Westbrook have also caused Ibaka to take a larger role in the Thunder offense. Ibaka’s usage percentage of nearly 20 percent is a career-high, as are his 14.6 points per game.

DeAndre Jordan
Jordan is averaging a career high in several categories, including minutes per game (35.5), points per game (9.5), rebounds per game (13.9) and blocks per game (2.4).

Currently, he finds himself in the top five in three major statistical categories. He leads the league in rebounds per game (13.9), field goal percentage (64.5 percent), and is fourth in blocks per game (2.4). The only player to average at least 13 rebounds, two blocks and shoot 60 percent from the field in the same season was Dwight Howard in 2009-10.

Jordan has four games of 20 or more rebounds this season, tied with Dwight Howard for the league high. Prior to this season Jordan had three 20-rebound games in 351 career games.

Jordan is tied with Andre Drummond for the league lead with 5.5 contested rebounds per game (contested rebounds, being ones in which an opponent is within 3.5 feet of the rebounder). His 651 total rebounds this season (in 47 games) is already 39 more than he had all of last season (82 games).

Jordan is currently on a 24-game streak of double-digit rebounds, which is seven more than the second longest streak of the season (Joakim Noah).

State of hoops in Los Angeles at the break

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
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Getty ImagesThings haven't gone as planned for Kobe Bryant (left) and the Lakers, but Chris Paul (right) and the Clippers are riding high, currently in third place in the Western Conference.
Things are upside down in Los Angeles these days.

The two NBA teams that call L.A. home are breaking new ground this season. The Clippers are enjoying one of their best seasons, while the Lakers are enduring one of their worst.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS (25-29)
The Lakers have 29 losses at the All-Star break. Since the ABA-NBA merger in 1976-77, the Lakers have finished with 29 or fewer losses FOR THE ENTIRE SEASON 24 different times (82-game seasons only).

No NBA franchise has made the playoffs in more seasons than the Lakers since the merger, but after last night's loss to the Clippers, ESPN.com’s Hollinger Playoff Odds give the Lakers just a 28.9 percent chance of reaching the postseason.

Even if the Lakers do find a way to reach the postseason, it might not matter. They’re 1-9 against the top four teams in the Western Conference this season (including an 0-3 mark against the Clippers), and they still have four games remaining against those teams (Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, Grizzlies).

What's wrong?

The Lakers rank 17th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 103.4 points per 100 possessions (worst since 2006-07 season). They finished in the top six in this category in four of the previous five seasons.

The Lakers have also struggled getting back on defense after missed shots this season. They've allowed an NBA-worst 16.1 fast-break points per game.

In fact, the Lakers have allowed at least 20 fast-break points in 15 games this season, including in three of their last five games. No other NBA team has allowed 20 fast-break points in more than 12 games this season.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (39-17)
The Clippers, on the other hand, enter the All-Star break with 39 wins and a .696 winning percentage.

Their best single-season winning percentage since moving to Los Angeles came last season (.606), and since the move, the Clippers have NEVER made the playoffs in a season the Lakers failed to make the postseason.

The Clippers have been at their best in the final period this season. They've outscored their opponents by 118 points in the fourth quarter.

Only the Spurs (163) and Knicks (126) have a better fourth-quarter differential.

One of the reasons for that fourth-quarter success has been their lock-down defense late in games. They've allowed just 40.2 percent shooting by their opponents in the fourth quarter, by far the lowest in the NBA.

At their current pace, the Clippers would finish the season with 57 wins, which would make this the first 50-win season in franchise history and would eclipse their previous single-season record by eight wins.

Clippers streaking to the top of the West

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
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Kent Smith/NBAE/Getty ImageBlake Griffin and the Clippers have had a lot to celebrate this year.
Showtime has returned to Los Angeles. This time, it’s in the form of Clipper red, royal blue and white, and not the traditional purple and gold.

The Clippers have emerged this season as top Western Conference contenders and one of the best teams in the NBA.

Los Angeles has won its last 11 games, matching the franchise's longest win streak, originally set by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves.

At 19-6, the Clippers are off to their best 25-game start in franchise history. Last year, they finished the regular season 40-26, recording the highest single-season win percentage in franchise history at .606.

This season they have even higher expectations, as they’ve shown improvements in several key areas, propelling them into the NBA’s elite.

Defense
"Defense Wins Championships" is the motto the Clippers have adopted this season. They ranked 18th in defensive efficiency last season, allowing 102.9 points per 100 possessions. This season Los Angeles ranks fourth, allowing 97.7 points per 100 possessions.

The Clippers’ pressure defense has been outstanding this year, forcing an NBA-high 17.5 turnovers per game.

They have also been able to turn their opponents’ miscues into scoring opportunities better than any team in the league.

They average an NBA-high 22 points off turnovers, including a season-high 31 points off turnovers in their 93-77 win Wednesday over the New Orleans Hornets.

Offense
On the offensive side of the ball, the Clippers have picked up where they left off last season. They remain one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA, averaging 107.7 points per 100 possessions.

The Clippers are finding easy ways to score. They rank third in the league in field goal percentage, likely due to where on the court their shots are coming from.

The Clippers thrive in the paint, where 47.3 percent of their total points have been scored. Only the Denver Nuggets score a higher percentage of their points in that area at 53.8 percent.

The high-flying frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan has fueled the team’s success inside.

Both players rank in the top five in dunks for the third consecutive season. In fact, Griffin’s 472 dunks over the last three seasons are the most in the NBA in that span.

Bench
The Clippers’ biggest improvement has been their increased depth. They rank second in the NBA in bench points per game, a significant jump for a unit that ranked 26th in scoring last season.

The Clippers’ reserves have played a key role in the team’s recent surge, outscoring their opponents’ bench in nine of the last 10 games overall.

The biggest spark off the bench is Jamal Crawford, who leads all reserves in scoring at 16.6 points per game. Despite not starting, he has been the team’s primary closer this season. Crawford averages 7.2 points in the fourth quarter, trailing only Kobe Bryant in that category this season.

The Clippers will host the Kings on Friday at the Staples Center. With a win, they would match the Thunder for the longest win streak this season.

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