A couple of teams heading in opposite directions will square-off Friday night in Sacramento when the 4-9 Kings play hosts to the 11-5 L.A. Clippers. The Clippers have won three in-a-row, while the Kings are losers of four of their last six games overall, including a 103-102 loss to the Clippers last Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles.
Chris Paul is expected to be in the lineup for the Clippers despite leaving in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s win over the Knicks with a strained right hamstring. The Clips would be extremely short at the point if Paul were to miss any time, considering Darren Collison is the only other healthy PG on the roster. The third-stringer, Maalik Wayns, hasn’t played yet this season as he continues to nurse a knee injury.
Sacramento fought back from a 20-point deficit in the last meeting between these clubs, before ultimately losing by a point following a pair of free throws by Paul to clinch it. They then dropped the second half of the Staples Center back-to-back with a 100-86 defeat at the hands of the Lakers.
DeMarcus Cousins has been one of the few individual bright spots for the Kings this season, and is averaging 21.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks a game. In the two previous meetings with the Clippers this season, Cousins has racked up a total of 47 points and 29 boards. He’s a load.
The Clippers’ maligned defense continues to show improvement, having held the Bulls and Knicks to 82 and 80 points in their last two games, respectively. It’s tough to tell how much stock should be taken in these numbers, though, considering the Bulls are an offensive mess (and it was their first game following the Derrick Rose injury) and the Knicks’ season has been an unmitigated disaster to this point. Considering the Kings are 21st in the league in offensive efficiency right now, holding a third straight opponent under 100 points shouldn’t be too tall an order for L.A.
They’ve been making their way so far this season behind one of the league’s more prolific offenses. They average 107 points per game, second in the league behind the Houston Rockets.
Sacramento also made a trade this week, sending veteran forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams. Williams is a tweener forward that has had more success playing power forward in his two years in the league, but the Kings have a logjam at that position. They had reportedly been seeking a small forward, so I’d imagine Williams will see some time at that spot, and could make his debut in a Kings uniform tonight.
The Clippers will have the rare opportunity to clinch a season series with a divisional foe before the calendar turns to December. They won’t square-off for the fourth and final time this season until April 12th, the third-to-last game of the regular season.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.