Game 35 Preview: Kings vs. Clippers

One of the NBA’s best road draws visits Power Balance Pavilion tonight.  The Sacramento Kings host the high-flying Los Angeles Clippers at the arena in Natomas for the first time this season.

Gametime: 7:00 pm PT

Broadcast Information: Click here.

For Clippers perspective, visit fellow TrueHoop Network affiliate Clipper Blog.

Kings Probable Starters (12-22)

Isaiah Thomas Marcus Thornton Tyreke Evans Jason Thompson DeMarcus Cousins

Mr. Irrelevant has been named NBA’s Western Conference rookie of the month.  From the official press release:

Thomas led Western Conference rookies in February in scoring (12.2 ppg) and was second in assists (4.4 apg).  He recorded his first five career starts last month, scoring 96 total points, enough to match Otis Birdsong’s franchise record for most points scored in a player’s first five starts, set during the 1970-71 season.

Clippers Probable Starters (20-12)

Chris Paul Randy Foye Caron Butler Blake Griffin DeAndre Jordan

For the Clippers, everything begins and ends with Chris Paul.  The superstar point guard is a scoring threat from the following three areas on the floor according to Hoopdata:

  • At the rim: 67 percent shooting
  • 10 to 15 feet: 50 percent shooting
Paul is averaging 19.5 points, 8.5 assists and a career-high 44.2 percent from beyond the arc this season.

3-on-3 Roundtable

You may be familiar with ESPN.com’s 5-on-5 roundtables, which feature opinion and analysis from ESPN writers and TrueHoop Network contributors on pressing NBA topics. Along with other THN blogs, Cowbell Kingdom has brought that format to the local level in the form of our own 3-on-3 roundtable.

D.J. Foster and Jovan Buha of Clipper Blog join me to preview tonight’s Kings/Clippers match-up.

1. Match-up to watch?

D.J. Foster: Marcus Thornton vs. the Clippers’ guards. Thornton’s eyes should be popping out of his head like a cartoon character. Buckets has scored at least 20 points in seven of his last eight games, and now he gets a Clippers team that features one of the slowest and smallest perimeter defenses in the league. Outside of anyone on Blake Griffin, he is the game’s biggest mismatch.

Jovan Buha: DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan. Cousins is an offensive monster, and Jordan’s sole purpose is to protect the rim and rebound. Something’s got to give. Jordan has a tendency to over-help, which will likely allow Cousins to consistently pin a much smaller defender. Expect a field day for DMC, which may tilt things the Kings’ way.

Jonathan Santiago: Isaiah Thomas vs. Chris Paul.  Fresh off being named February’s Western Conference rookie of the month, Thomas should be fired-up for tonight’s match-up against the NBA’s best point guard.  Meanwhile, Paul is not only a vocal leader on offense, but an incredible communicator defensively.

2. Stat that decides the game

D.J. Foster: Points in the paint. The Clippers can’t get caught up in running up and down and taking the first look available. If they let the Kings dictate the terms of warfare, the Clippers might end up in a shootout they want no part of.

Jovan Buha: Lawler’s Law. The Clippers are 12-2 when they score 100 points and 4-9 when they allow it. On the other hand, the Kings are 7-3 when they score 100 points and 4-15 when they give them up. This game could ironically end up in the low 80s, but chances are whoever gets to 100 points first (or there at all) will win this game.

Jonathan Santiago: Points in the paint.  At practice yesterday, Kings head coach Keith Smart noted how the Clippers sometimes run misdirection plays to free their high-flyers on the weak-side.  The Kings defenders must remain aware of this or they could wind-up on more than a few Blake Griffin/DeAndre Jordan posters tonight.

3. The Clippers have asked die-hard fan Darrell Bailey to stop referring to himself as “Clipper Darrell”.  Both parties have told their side of the story (see here and here) – who do you believe?

D.J. Foster: If the Kings had actually moved to Anaheim, I could see Darrell becoming King Darrell and slapping on a purple suit with hanging cowbells after the latest slight from the Clips organization. You give us Cisco, we give you Darrell? Eh? Eh?

Jovan Buha: I’m not going to pick a side, but I will say this: I understand both parties. However, I think that if the Clippers have a problem with how Darrell does business, there’s a better way to solve the issue. At the same time, there may be factors we don’t know about, so it’s too difficult to come to a rash conclusion.

Jonathan Santiago: Personally, it’s a little hard for me to believe the claims they made in their press release.  And in the court of public opinion, the Clippers lose this battle because of their lackluster reputation.  But with every two-sided story, there’s always more than what’s seen at the surface.  The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

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About: Jonathan Santiago

Jonathan Santiago serves Cowbell Kingdom as senior editor specializing in writing, podcasting and video production. He also handles the majority of CK’s day-to-day beat coverage of the Kings.