Los Angeles Clippers vs. New Orleans Pelicans
7:30 p.m. PST
December 18, 2013
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Why hasn’t Tyreke Evans worked in New Orleans?
Joe Gerrity, Bourbon Street Shots, (@GerrityJoe): Injury. His ankle has been a mess most of his time in New Orleans. It’s clearly impacted his ability to get inside, and his success in finishing once he gets there. There was a stretch late in November and early in December where he looked like the difference maker off the bench the Pelicans expected when he signed originally, but now he’s rolled the ankle again.
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): I don’t know if there’s one specific answer, but the obvious one is that he’s battling an ankle injury that’s compromised his ability to penetrate. More importantly, I think, he’s still adjusting to his transition into a sixth man and the constantly fluctuating minutes (and touches) that come with the role. If he were a starter, I’d be more concerned.
Luke Laubhan, (@LukeLaubhan): Well, we all figured it wouldn’t be a great fit in the first place, what with Jrue Holiday and our old buddy, Eric Gordon, milking the shot clock and using possessions. The transition from entrenched starter to super-sub isn’t easy for anybody, plus, Evans has been a bit hobbled. Bob’s your uncle: it’s been a rough go for Tyreke.
2. What is the Pelicans’ biggest weakness for the Clippers to exploit?
Gerrity: Up top. The Pelicans look to Jason Smith, Jeff Withey, and Lou Amundson to hold down the center position. Without AD there to cover up mistakes, that group struggles on both ends. While I don’t find Griffin and Jordan to be a particularly intimidating duo, they’ll have their way on offense. Defensively they may have a hard time on Anderson, but otherwise the Clips bigs should have a good night.
Buha: It’s a tie between their inability to rebound and defend the 3-point line ever since Anthony Davis broke his hand. With Davis on the floor, New Orleans is the eighth-best rebounding team. With him on the bench, they drop to 22nd. They actually defend the rim better when Davis is off the floor, but because they’re forced to over-rotate to make up for his presence, they leave a ton of open shooters from deep.
Laubhan: It sure isn’t the mascot. That’s one mean-looking bird! Where are Chris Kaman and his fowl-hunting tools when you need them? On the court, it’s probably the Davis-less frontcourt, where the Clippers now have the kind of skill advantage (Ryan Anderson three-point assault aside) you would think they’d readily exploit, but often don’t.
3. Does Blake Griffin’s aggressiveness from Monday carry into Wednesday night’s game?
Gerrity: Nope. Playing San Antonio gets you pumped up. Playing the Pelicans without AD makes you sleepy, at best. If there’s any hope for him getting riled up, it comes in the form of Jason Smith. You may recall this flagrant foul from Chris Paul’s first game back in New Orleans.
Buha: Yes. With Davis out, the Pelicans don’t have a player who can stop Griffin one on one. He has history with Jason Smith and would destroy Ryan Anderson on the block, so I don’t see this ending well for the Pellies. Maybe he doesn’t score or shoot as much as the Spurs game, but I think his multi-faceted attack will be similar.
Laubhan: I think so. For one thing, everyone on the team, including Blake, is still relishing the fact they’re at home, not stuffed in some charter on the Eastern seaboard. The team has a bounce in its step. It sounds like Doc did his Blake-whisperer routine again recently, too, urging Griffin to smartly assert himself. Last, Jason Smith may as well wrap himself in a red cape.