After dropping a game to the Minnesota Timberwolves bench during the period Chris Paul has recently dubbed “winning time”, the Clippers need to right the ship to get through a brutal February schedule. They are a team that cannot afford to drop games against the likes of the Sacramento Kings who live the Pacific Division cellar. Home-court advantage can be more important to a young team like the Clippers, and they definitely want to have home court advantage in the first round to give themselves the best shot at getting to at least the second round of the PLayoffs.
The Clippers are about to embark on a six game road trip on Thursday, and will definitely set a tone of playing well on the road, if they want to get out of February in one piece. They have had late-game struggles lately against Minnesota, Golden State, and San Antonio.
“That’s something we’ve got to learn, how to put teams away,” Paul said. Paul was one of the only Clippers who played decently in the fourth quarter against Minnesota.
Sacramento has scored 100 points in three straight games, and unless the Clippers want to relinquish their hold on the Pacific division even before Kobe’s broken nose heals, then they need to figure out a way to score and defend in the fourth quarter.
The Kings will not be lacking motivation either. On Monday, the Kings and the NBA announced a tentative deal to keep the team in Sacramento, quieting rumors about a potential move. It must be nice to know as a player that you won’t be moving your entire family in the offseason, and the Kings’ new-found security may show dividends during the end of this season.
The Kings have been playing well at home where , and their dynamic duo of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins will be the Clippers main concern on Wednesday. Cousins, in particular has been on fire lately He is averaging 19.9 points and 12.8 rebounds in his last 12 games. “I think as he grows as a pro there’s going to be a lot of nights where people won’t have an answer for him,” Smart said.
The Clippers are hoping to have an answer for him, or it will be a long and cold February for them.