Los Angeles Clippers (19-13) @ Charlotte Hornets (17-13)
Time Warner Cable Arena
4:00 p.m. PST
December 30, 2015
Fox Prime Ticket
1. The Clippers bench is averaging 49 points per game in two games without Blake Griffin. Can we expect this very small sample trend to continue?
Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU): No way. First of all, one of those games featured 20 bench points from Paul Pierce. He’s now starting due to Josh Smith exploring all levels of the doghouse – attic, basement, and the guest room. Against Washington, Wesley Johnson and Jamal Crawford shot a combined 70% from the field, while Cole Aldrich went to the FT line 8 times. Let’s just be real – you can come find me if that happens again this season.
Aaron Williams (@aaronsmarter): Dear God, please, let it. Since it’s so fashionable to make drastic over generalizations lately, here’s one. Blake Griffin has been holding the Clippers back. Let me explain. I can’t be the only one who’s perceived a marked lack of engagement on the part of most non-Griffin players on this team – exceptions made for Paul, who is Paul, and Redick, who is just so, so consistent. It’s almost as if they think their do-anything star forward can actually do anything – including carry a few shiftless teammates into the postseason darn near solo. Well, the training wheels are off, which means that this group has to prove itself, and it’s fortunate that they were a pretty good on-paper group to begin with.
Roscoe Whalan (@RoscoeWhalan7): It’s somewhere in between; just like how we all know Jamal won’t shoot 9/12 for 21 points like he did in Washington every night — nor will he put up 1/10 for 7 points like he did in Utah. There are signs that things are improving though: Wesley Johnson is looking more comfortable, Paul Pierce is warming up and Cole Aldrich has been serviceable with the second unit. I’m optimistic.
2. Speaking of stepping up sans Griffin, remember when Spencer Hawes filled in as a Clippers starter last season? How’s his reboot going in Charlotte?
Murray: Y’all kill me with these ex-Clippers who didn’t play well being rubbed in Doc’s face as if they’re lighting it up now … Jared Dudley didn’t work out and he’s not a difference-maker. Spencer Hawes didn’t work out and while he’s shooting better in Charlotte, his production isn’t all that better. Now he has a back injury. It’s too bad Blake Griffin won’t go back to dunking on him tonight.
Williams: The Hornets haven’t been on TV much, so I had to go look up some stats. Looks about consistent with his run on the Clippers – albeit with more minutes per game than he ever saw in L.A. Honestly, I think Spence can do just fine with the right role, but it seems like nobody really knows how to use him. He’s a big body, but not really strong enough to bang down low. He’s a decent three-point shooter, but has so little of the finesse of other, more graceful big men like Zingy and Miro. He’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma. I’m looking forward to seeing him again.
Whalan: The most memorable thing Spencer did in Clipper Land was wear that gaudy suit on Christmas Day. He’s actually slotted in nicely to a team that’s surprised a lot of folks — particularly with Al Jefferson missing games and MKG out for the season. That said, the best thing he’s done in Charlotte is provide the inspiration for Jeremy Lin’s hair game.
3. Over/Under: 1.5 more Chris Paul dunks in 2015.
Murray: Under. 2 games left in 2015, so I’m going to go out on a serious limb and say that Paul sticks to layups going into the New Year.
Williams: *100 emoji* *flame emoji* *crying laughing emoji* I think we’ve seen all the CP3 dunks we’re gonna see this year. He always gets one up just to prove (to himself? to us? to little Chris?) that he still can. Personally I’m fine with elbow jumpers from here on out.
Whalan: Damn. A Clippers point guard hasn’t got up like that since Mike Taylor… but I’m going under. Unless of course CP gets mad enough and feels the need to prove himself for whatever reason.