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The CW (Clipper Weekly), 5th Edition
Current Record: 8-8, T-4th Pacific
Last Week: Running in place. On the plus side, the Clippers finished off the week by demolishing the Eastern Conference leading Magic, shooting an insane 60.3% from the field. The Clips also had an easy win against the last place Grizzlies to end their five game losing streak which also provided a show of offensive efficiency. However, in the critical division matchups against the Kings and Lakers, the Clips fell flat. LA shot an abysmal 30.6% against Sacramento, tanking it in the fourth quarter by missing 19 of their last 20 shots over the final eight minutes. In the big rivalry rematch, the Lakers once again showed that they are the currently the best team in the city, executing a crisp game plan to pick apart the Clipper D. Kurt has the wrap on that game.
Quick Take: With the Clippers offense being so hot and cold, it is no surprise to see them hovering around .500. Chris Kaman’s ankle injury, which forced him to miss four games, gave Mike Dunleavy an excuse to play around with his lineup in an effort to generate more consistent performance. In the win against Orlando, he inserted the struggling Tim Thomas (30% shooting over past seven games) and Shaun Livingston (only 6.5 points per game over past ten games) into the starting lineup in search of a spark, leading to a 20-point outing for Thomas and a season-high 10 assists for Livingston. Whether or not this can be a permanent solution remains to be seen, but Dunleavy must do whatever it takes to shake up this team and get them playing up to their potential.
Tuesday: Miami (PRIME, 7:30 pm) - the defending champs still seem to be suffering from a post-championship hangover, sitting at two games below .500 and only 3-6 at home (they were 31-10 last year). Shaq is sidelined with torn cartilage in his left knee. Once upon a time superstars Antoine Walker and Gary Payton are playing like they want to join the Diesel on the bench, shooting 39.6% and 36.1% from the field, respectively. But the Heat still have Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, seventh in the league in scoring, who is capable of taking over games in spite of an aging supporting cast.
Friday: at San Antonio (PRIME, 5:00 pm) - well, Tony Parker had a good week, locking up a certain desperate housewife (see picture above). And the Spurs? Ho hum, going about their business, first place in the Northwest division, with Tim Duncan, Parker, and Manu Ginobili leading the way just like always. It's always hard to hate on the Spurs because they're always good and play sound (if uninteresting) ball. The Clippers can definitely make a statement by taking out this tough team in their gym.
Saturday: at Memphis (KTLA-CW, 5:00 pm) - as proven this past Wednesday, the Grizz just aren't very good. But they try really hard. On the back end of a back-to-back roadie, this could be a letdown game if the Clippers aren't careful; these are the games the Clips can't afford to lose as they try to climb back up the standings. Long-limbed forward Hakim Warrick was a matchup problem with his impressive athleticism and surprising ball skills in the first meeting; it will be interesting to see how Dunleavy adjusts his lineup to account for him.
AP photo by Chris Pizzello