Clippers-Bulls Preview

Los Angeles Clippers Status Check:
Record: 1-1
Home Record: 0-0
Streak: Lost 1
Last game: 115-90 loss to San Antonio
PPG: 97.5 (11th)
Opponents PPG: 100.5 (25th)
Offensive Rating: 107.7 (8th)
Defensive Rating: 111.0 (26th)
Pace: 90.5 (21st)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .474 (16th)
Turnover Percentage: .106 (2nd)
Defensive Rebound Percentage: .676 (27th)
Offensive Rebound Percentage: .256 (18th)
Free Throws Per Field Goal Attempt: .310 (5th)
Opp. eFG%: .522 (24th)
Opp. TO%:  .164 (8th)
Opp. FT/FGA: .198 (7th)
Leading scorer: Blake Griffin (25.0)

Stats from Basketball-Reference

Two of the best, if not the two best, point guards square off tonight as Chicago travels back to L.A. to finish its four game California road-trip. The Bulls look to build off their best outing of the season as they travel to the Clippers, who play their first home game this year.

Derrick Rose has never lost to Chris Paul, but that was when Paul was with the Hornets. The wins may tilt toward Rose, but Paul has the better stats in their head-to-head matchups. Paul is averaging 19.3 points on 50.9 percent shooting, 7.8 assists and 2.0 steals. Rose on the other hand is averaging 14.8 points while shooting an ugly 36.5 percent to go along with 6.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 3.5 turnovers. Rose did get the best of the last matchup, on February 12, holding Paul to 15 points on 30 percent shooting.

But now CP3 has teamed up with Blake Griffin and Vinny Del Negro! OK, maybe the Del Negro thing isn’t great for Paul, but Griffin definitely helps.

The Bulls and Clips split their two games last year, with both teams winning their away games. In the loss, Rose scored 34 points, grabbed six rebounds and had eight assists. Carlos Boozer scored 25, and Keith Bogans recorded a bagel. Blake Griffin scored 29 points in the win.

This game will bring back some sour memories for Rose. Derrick had a chance to put the game into overtime, but missed the second freebie and the Bulls fell 100-99.

Rose and the Bulls got revenge in the second game though, with Rose scoring 32 points in an 18 point victory.

Derrick’s average of 33 points against the Clippers was his second highest against any team last year (he averaged 37.5 against the Spurs). But last year’s starting point guard for the Clippers was Baron Davis…not quite the same caliber as Paul is.

Joakim Noah did not get to play against the Clips, missing both games due to injury. Blake Griffin averaged 31.5 points, otherwise known as the Boozer-effect.

In the two matchups last year, the Bulls only had 15 fast break points. The Bulls had 33 fast break points on Thursday night against the Kings. And Chicago is expected to keep running to get easy points.

The Bulls were moving early, and went on a quick 15-0 run, two points of which came on Joakim Noah coast-to-coast break. Coast-to-coast Joakim is the best Joakim. Chicago looked great early, but it helped that the Kings looked less than spectacular. Sacramento started extremely slow, making just one of their first 13 attempts. The Kings got most of their points from the line, while Chicago was pushing the tempo. The Bulls had eleven fast break points in the first, while Sacramento recorded just two in that category.

Rose tried to get himself going early, and even though he didn’t shoot a great percentage, it definitely helped create offense for others. Boozer finished the first quarter with six points and seven rebounds. The seven rebounds were his most of the season (he finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds). Rip Hamilton scored 16 points of his own in the win.

But Rose didn’t do enough. He settled for jumpers a lot of the time instead of plowing into the lane. He was just 3-8 from shots that weren’t at the rim.

It won’t be as easy for the Bulls tonight, as they are on the second night of back-to-backs, with some tired legs. Luol Deng played 40 minutes, Booz played 38 and Rip played 36. The Los Angeles has had one full day of rest after their 25-point loss to San Antonio.

You may be wondering when Chicago will look as good as they did last year. And knowing Thibs (not personally, although sometimes I pretend that’s the case), he should have them whipped back into midseason form very soon.

Yes, it’s early, but the Miami Heat look extremely good. And they look even better in their intro video.

Chicago played better on Thursday than they had the rest of the year, but it isn’t where they’ll need to be; especially considering the Bulls couldn’t put the Kings away. Tonight will be a good test, against a good team, but a team that is still getting used to new teammates.

AARPistons: Rip Hamilton will reunite with former teammate Chauncey Billups tonight. They played together in Detroit from 2002 until 2008 when Chauncey left. The Piston won the NBA Championship in 2003-2004 and lost in the Finals the next year.

Turnovers: Los Angeles is second in the league in turnover percentage at .106, while Chicago is 23rd (.159). The Bulls aren’t forcing other teams to turn it over much either, recording just a .132 opponent turnover percentage. The Clippers have a .164 opponent turnover percentage. Chicago will need to hold onto the ball to win tonight, something they didn’t do a good job of against the Kings.

Block Party: DeAndre Jordan is averaging 5.5 blocks per game. He recorded eight blocks in the first game of the season against Golden State, and three against the Spurs.

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