The Los Angeles Clippers have a tall order tonight as they host the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center. The Clippers have lost nine straight games, and look to avoid a 10-game streak, but the odds are stacked against them. For one, the Hornets are 11-1, tied with the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the NBA, and the Clippers are 1-13, their worst start since the 1998-1999 season. For another thing, the Clippers have lost 14 straight games against the Hornets, dating back to 2006.
Blake Griffin is coming off perhaps the finest game by a rookie in the history of the Clippers. He scored 44 points, several on highlight-reel dunks, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out seven assists in Saturday night's loss to the New York Knicks. In fact, he was only the second rookie in the history of the league to have at least 44 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists, joining Oscar Robertson, who had 44-15-11 on November 15, 1960. On the season, Griffin is averaging 18.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
The Hornets hallmark is their defense, which has contributed greatly to their 11-1 start. They are second in the NBA scoring defense, allowing 90.4 points per game. They are third in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing 99.3 points per 100 possessions, and have allowed the lowest effective field goal percentage (46.6%) in the league. Point guard extraordinaire Chris Paul, who led the league in steals in both the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons, is second in the league this season, averaging 3.0 steals per contest. Paul is also second in the league, averaging 10.5 assists per game, to go along with his 16.8 points per game.
If there is one huge area of difference between the Clippers and Hornets, it is three-point shooting. The Clippers are fourth-worst in the league, shooting 31.1% from beyond the arc, and they allow opponents to shoot a league-high 44.0%. The Hornets, meanwhile, shoot 38.5% on threes, sixth in the NBA, while allowing opponents to shoot just 32.0%, fifth in the league.
The Clippers are 1-6 at home this season. The Hornets are 4-1 on the road this year, including a 75-71 win last night in Sacramento over the Kings. Tonight's 7:30 p.m. PST game will be televised on Prime Ticket.
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