Clippers Look For 6th Straight Victory As They Face Lakers Thursday Night
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A five-game winning streak is nothing new for the Los Angeles Clippers, who have now rolled off three of them this season.
It’s that sixth straight victory that has managed to elude them.
The Clippers will try to set a new season best for consecutive victories Thursday night when they suit up as the visitor against the city-rival Lakers at Staples Center.
Since the five-game streak began Feb. 23, the Clippers (42-20) have been rolling with an average of 112.2 points. The offense has been balanced in those contests with three different players leading the team in scoring.
The most recent was forward Matt Barnes, who scored a season-high 28 in a 104-96 win over Phoenix on Tuesday. Barnes, seventh on the team at 8.7 points per game, sparked a big third-quarter run, going 7 for 7 from the field for 18 points in the period to help Los Angeles rally from 11 down at halftime.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Barnes said about his performance in the third. “I had a couple of open looks and they were closing out hard and it gave me some looks at the basket so I was just taking what they gave to me and I was able to knock them down.”
The Clippers have continued piling up points despite their two top shooting guards missing time during the surge. Jamal Crawford (strained calf) has missed the last two games and J.J. Redick (back, shoulder) has been sidelined for all five.
Both are out indefinitely, and Redick likely won’t return until the playoffs.
Picking up the slack so far has been point guard Darren Collison, who has started the last two alongside Chris Paul in the backcourt. Collison is averaging 14.2 points during the streak and has shot 51.9 percent overall and 50 percent from 3-point range.
New acquisition Danny Granger, a former All-Star, could also see more time after going scoreless in under four minutes in his Clippers debut Tuesday. Granger averaged over 20 points for Indiana in three straight seasons, but injuries have hampered him since 2012.
A victory would not only give the Clippers their longest win streak of the season, but also continue their dominance over their fellow Staples Center tenants. The Clippers have won five of the last six in the series, including a 123-87 victory Jan. 10 that was the Lakers’ most lopsided loss of the season.
The Lakers (21-40) were trying to match a season best with a third straight victory Tuesday, but wound up falling to New Orleans 132-125. Pau Gasol scored 29 points and the team shot 54.1 percent in the losing effort.
The Lakers’ defense has struggled all season, allowing a Western Conference-high 106.9 points per game. Over the last six games, it’s been especially bad with opponents averaging 115.7 in those contests.
The Pelicans shot 59.7 percent, the highest for a Lakers opponent since San Antonio shot 61.0 percent on April 20, 2012.
“Hopefully you put yourself in a position where you get stops constantly, and you don’t have to struggle and scramble at the end with desperation,” Gasol said. “We just have to be locked in at both ends of the floor … we really have to be disciplined on the defensive end so they don’t score so easily.”