Three out of their previous four wins have come at home, yet point guard Chris Paul cautions against his team, which has compiled a record of 12-6 on the season, getting too comfortable.
“You [can] never get too high,” he said. “The exciting part of an NBA season is that it has its ups and downs but you never get too high or get too low. Stuff was pretty gloomy around here after that last road trip we were on. As you can see it’s a little more upbeat now.”
The Clippers’ mindset of not taking anything for granted will have extra significance against the Suns (7-13), who have lost five straight games, two of which have been by four points or fewer and another in overtime.
Clippers guard Chauncey Billups is unlikely to play Saturday due to peroneal tendinitis in his left foot.
“We’ll listen to the doctors and the trainers, let him get his therapy and when he’s ready to go he’ll tell me,” Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said.
LAST TIME OUT
Clippers 112, Mavericks 90: The Clippers’ defense stepped up, as the team turned 22 Mavericks turnovers, including a season-high 18 steals, into 26 points.
“We got stops," DeAndre Jordan said. "Our defense was the reason that we were able to get good offense [Wednesday]. We were able to get out on the break, set pick-and-rolls for Chris [Paul] and let him do what he likes to do and find guys who were open and ready to shoot.”
Blake Griffin and Paul each tallied a double-double with Griffin scoring 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting with 13 rebounds and five assists and Paul scoring 14 points, 13 assists and five steals. Jamal Crawford and Caron Butler added 20 and16 points, respectively. Without Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas was led by 16 points off the bench from Vince Carter and 15 points from Derek Fisher.
Mavericks 97, Suns 94: Though the Suns went on a late 16-6 run to tie the game, O.J. Mayo hit a fadeaway jumper with 34.6 seconds left and Darren Collison made two free-throws with 19.3 seconds left to escape with the three-point win. Mayo led Dallas with 23 points. Markieff Morris of the Suns had 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Goran Dragic chipped in 15 points.
Chris Paul vs. Goran Dragic. Each teams’ offense flows through the two point guards. Their stat lines are similar: Paul is currently averaging a near double-double with 16.1 points and 9.5 assists per night on 48.3% shooting from the field, while Dragic is averaging 15.4 points and 6.5 assists a game, making 46.8% of his field goals.
“[Goran Dragic is] good in the open court. He’s a tough kid, attacks the basket, he runs their team for them,” Del Negro said. “I think he’s just a very competitive kid and we’ve got to do a good job getting back, loading up on him and controlling his penetration.”
Paul has the advantage in the matchup historically. With Paul on the floor, Dragic’s points decrease to 7.4 points per 36 minutes, while Paul’s per 36-minute average increases to 23.7 points a game during that time.
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Clippers last won a season series against the Suns during the 2003-04 season. Since then, the Clippers have gone 7-25 against Phoenix… Forward Grant Hill spent the previous five seasons with the Suns, averaging 12 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists… Suns head coach Alvin Gentry compiled an 89-133 record as head coach of the Clippers from 2000-03… Del Negro finished his NBA career with Phoenix from 2000-02 and served as a front office executive before taking over as head coach of the Chicago Bulls in 2008… Clippers assistant coach Marc Iavaroni was an assistant coach for Phoenix from 2002-07… Forward Matt Barnes averaged 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds with the Suns during the 2008-09 season.