2-0 Clippers Face an Improved Sacramento Kings Squad

The LA Clippers meet the Sacramento Kings this afternoon, and coming off two close wins, they may have another battle on their hands against the vastly improved Kings. One of the major changes with the Kings is at point guard, where UCLA Bruin alum and former Clippers backup Darren Collison is now the guy, and he has been playing extremely well. In the Kings upset win over Portland on Friday, Collison put in 17 points to go along with eight boards, eight assists, and brilliant defense. They also have a new backup in former Lakers’ guard Ramon Sessions. Of course, the guy that got away at the point guard spot, Isaiah Thomas, is a scoring machine and is tearing it up for the Suns, but he doesn’t defend like Collison, and is more of a shooting point guard than a guy who looks to set up plays and pass first, like Collison.

The Clippers have not won their first three in a season in seven years, and with new owner Steve Ballmer screaming away from his courtside seat, they have no choice but to make it 3-0 this afternoon. Not much more than what they have been seeing from most of the key guys is really all they need. Blake Griffin has been spectacular, coming off his 39-point performance, including 11-of-12 at the line, on Friday, and they have gotten solid, consistent play from Chris Paul,
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DeAndre Jordan, backup center Spencer Hawes, and Jamal Crawford. J.J. Redick has yet to hit his scoring grove, but that will come, and Matt Barnes has improved from his disappointing pre-season performances, and with it, more minutes that he became accustomed to last season.

A couple of reserves, in particular Chris Douglas-Roberts, need to step it up and show they belong and can contribute. Another bad performance from Douglas-Roberts and Reggie Bullock will need to move ahead of him on the depth chart.

So, how was it that the Kings opened the season with an 18-point loss to Golden State, but then followed that with a nine point win over Portland? Easy answer: Turnovers. In the game against the Warriors, the Kings committed 27 turnovers, but against the Trailblazers they cut that number down to 10, and therein lies a significant
improvement and a surefire road to victory. Granted, 40 points from Rudy Gay in the Portland game was also a significant factor, but such a significant decrease in the turnover number was the key.

The improvement was most significant with Sessions and DeMarcus Cousins. Sessions committed four turnovers in ten minutes in the first game, but in ten minutes again in the second game committed none. Cousins also in similar minutes went from six down to three. The Clippers defense needs to keep pressure on these guys, and the rest of the Kings, and if they can reverse that downward trend, that road to victory can get a bit easier for them. The Clippers forced 22 turnovers in their game against the Thunder, and 14 against the Lakers, for a two-game average of 18.

The Clippers have beaten the Kings in their last seven meetings at home, and are 10-1 against them since the arrival of CP3.

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