Los Angeles Clippers (37-20) vs Sacramento Kings (24-32)
Sleep Train Arena
7:00 p.m. PST
February 26, 2016
Fox Prime Ticket
1. Are the Kings good, bad or sitting actually where you thought they would before the season started?
Michael Shagrin (@mshaggy): Can the Kings be everything–good, bad, predictable, unruly–all at once? DeMarcus Cousins is the NBA’s most dominant big man and his presence on a roster of misanthropes leads to wildly divergent results from week to week. They started out 2016 going 8-3 with wins over the Clippers, OKC, Utah, Atlanta, and Indiana. Pretty good! But this being the Kings, they dropped 8 of their next 9, with duds against Portland, New Orleans, and Brooklyn. These guys basically defy traditional binaries. Take the continued employment of their head coach. George Karl helming the bench is the preferred situation of exactly nobody in power, except perhaps the financial advisors of Sacramento’s minority owners and yet there he remains.
Roscoe Whalan (@RoscoeWhalan): They’re exactly what I thought they’d be; see-sawing between complete mess and incredibly competitive; winning big games and then losing bunnies; having impressive individual performers and then representing complete dysfunction… You get my drift. I think 24-32 is probably about right. I think they’re a long-shot for the playoffs and will fall away as the season comes to the close but as always in Sacramento there’s still hope for the future…
Kaveh Jam (@kavehsroom): Prior to the season – and much prior to the dysfunction that’s seeped itself in the organization – I was a big proponent of the Kings as a lower-seed playoff team. On paper, Sacramento is absolutely a team that should be making the playoffs every year. The Kings can be a poster child of inconsistency and dysfunction, but their talent alone has kept them within range of the 8 seed. The DeMarcus influence is evident: they’re fifth in the league in getting to the FT line which explains why they are also third in putting points up. They rebound at a top-5 level and lead the league in pace. With that said, they are turning the corner on the most difficult portion of their schedule so their waning chances of making the playoffs are about to be seriously tested.
2. Would you like the Clippers to be sniffing around and making a push for Joe Johnson?
Shagrin: No, not really. Iso Joe is fun and all but if the Clippers want to challenge the Warriors apocalyptic offense in the second round (please don’t re-read that clause) the team’s aggregate lateral quickness needs to increase, not decrease. But hey, the Clippers haven’t had a small forward score 30 points since a vintage Caron Butler outing in November 2012. Coincidence?
Whalan: This is Doc Rivers’ bread and butter: buyout guys! Get Joe, sign the recently voided Marcus Thornton and start rebuilding the underwhelming 2013-14 Brooklyn Nets. Of course, Joe Johnson isn’t the man that once made him the most expensive player in the NBA but he certainly would be an interesting addition as the Clippers try to climb above Mount GSW between his perimeter shooting and general shot creation capabilities. It looks like he’s taking his talents to South Beach now so it seems like a moot point.
Jam: Absolutely, although I don’t think it will happen. We have seen how reliant the Clippers can be with their perimeter shooting – an area Joe Johnson has made a living. I can show you the numbers that say he is still a proficient shooter from 3-point land, but I honestly think it’s the in-between game where he helps the most. Brooklyn runs a lot of inside-out schemes around Brook Lopez which benefited Johnson’s perimeter game. When the offense or spacing gets mucky, Johnson does not need help getting his own shot. His 3-point shooting, ability to further help the Clips spacing, and getting his own shot – be on the low block, or mid-range are all reasons he would be of immediate help.
3. Complete the sentence: “J.J. Redick without Chris Paul is…”
Shagrin: A fine young man who’s insufferable Duke-ness has been usurped by Damien-like Blue Devil Grayson Allen (I just wanted a platform to publicly record my distaste for this young schmuck’s below the ankle antics in Durham).
Whalan: Extremely tired. I’m going to take direct from J.J.’s podcast this week with Kyle Lowry and paraphrase that conversation: J.J. says Chris Paul has the keys to the car and he’s just the guy sitting in the middle backseat. Perhaps he’s self-deprecating a little — he’d at least have a window — but it’s true, the mastery of CP3 is how good he makes guys like DJ and J.J. look on offense.
Jam: Working extra hard to get his shot. Redick has always been a shooter – that wouldn’t change without Paul. What would is the ease to which he gets them. Not many in the league can match Paul’s ability to pick apart a defense with penetration and passing and Redick has been one of the prime beneficiaries of it. The last two seasons alone, Redick has shot at a higher clip from 3-point range than any of his previous seven years in Orlando. Not just that, but it’s coming on a higher volume of shots as well. The result is a career-high in scoring last season and again this season.