The Los Angeles Clippers suffered a setback at the beginning of December. With losses to the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets the panic button was getting a work out. Since then the Clips have rattled off twenty-plus point wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets and are in the midst of a four-game winning streak.
The Clippers lost sharpshooter J.J. Redick to a broken hand and torn ligaments in his wrist and simply plugged Jamal Crawford in. Crawford has averaged 17 points and a couple of threes a game — granted, it’s on a 37/27 percent split — but it’s production that’s helped the Clippers to a 7-4 record in December while they get by without their starting shooting guard.
Clippers probable starting lineup:
PG Chris Paul
SG Jamal Crawford
SF Jared Dudley
PF Blake Griffin
C DeAndre Jordan
Count me as on of the skeptics who thought Doc Rivers was blowing a lot of smoke when he touted DeAndre Jordan as a Defensive Player of the Year during the preseason. Dunk City opportunistic offense gets Jordan a lot of attention, but he’s averaging career-high 13 rebounds and over 2 blocks a night on the season.
Injuries are often cited as an excuse for the Minnesota Timberwolves’ inconsistent play. Chase Budinger is cleared to practice and should give the Wolves some quality offensive production when he returns. Rony Turiaf’s future seems cloudier and his return seems a longer wait. Both injuries robbed the Wolves of offensively and defensively skilled players for which there are no existing replacements on Minnesota’s roster.
Wolves probable starting lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Kevin Martin
SF Corey Brewer
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
For most fans the stinker against the Lakers can’t be forgotten quickly enough. For the Wolves themselves, I hope Rick Adelman won’t let them forget what happens when they think they can just show up and win against any NBA team.