Going At A Nice Clip
The Clippers (35-26 ATS, 35-26 O/U at sportsbooks) have won four straight, averaging 114.3 points in the streak. They crushed New Orleans 108-76 on Saturday at Staples Center behind 21 points from Chris Paul and 20 from Blake Griffin. The latter has scored at least 20 in 19 straight games. L.A's magic number is nine: The Clippers are now 26-0 this season when hitting at least nine 3-pointers. They are actually not a great 3-point shooting team, ranking 24th in the NBA in percentage (34.9).
Saturday was supposed to be the Clippers debut of former Indiana Pacer Danny Granger. He was traded to Philadelphia at the trade deadline but never suited up for the Sixers and was bought out. The Clippers beat out the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat for Granger's services. He couldn't play Saturday because of a technicality. Granger was in uniform but his name was written onto the team's roster and not circled. Apparently a member of the Los Angeles PR staff put Granger's name under the heading "Updated Roster Additions," but the number on the sheet was not circled along with the other active players by the required deadline of 6:30 p.m. local time. When the referee saw Granger in uniform on the court warming up he told the Clippers that because Granger’s name was not circled on the active list he couldn't play. Seems pretty ridiculous but rules are rules.
The team is hoping Granger will play well enough to work into the starting lineup so Matt Barnes can come off the bench at small forward. He's generally been a reserve most of his career and is only starting because Jared Dudley is struggling big time. He was acquired from Phoenix this offseason in the Eric Bledsoe deal. The Clippers have benefitted from buyouts more than any other team. L.A. also landed former Magic power forward Glen Davis, largely because he played for Doc Rivers in Boston. Davis played 14 minutes Saturday and had five points.
Los Angeles remains without two key contributors in guards J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford. Redick is out indefinitely with a bulging disk in his back and Crawford has a calf injury that's expected to sideline him another game or two. He could win his second Sixth Man of the Year Award as Crawford is averaging 19.0 points per game.
Phoenix (38-20-1 ATS, 32-26-1 O/U at sportsbooks) has followed a three-game winning streak with two straight wins, both at home and against bad teams in the Pelicans and Hawks. On Sunday in the 129-120 victory over Atlanta, the Suns set an NBA season high with 79 first-half points and their 129 points were a season high for Phoenix. It was 40-37 after one very entertaining first quarter. The Suns had 29 assists and hit 15 3-pointers with Gerald Green leading the way with 33 points; he's averaging 22.1 points in the past 10. Phoenix got back reserve guard Leandro Barbosa for the first time in five games and he had seven points in 13 minutes.
The Suns can run-and-gun with anyone, even with Bledsoe still out at least a few more weeks. They have trouble defensively, however. Atlanta was the fifth straight team to score at least 104 points against the Suns and shot 52.4 percent. Phoenix hasn't had a game where both teams finished under triple digits since Jan. 26 at Cleveland.
Only the second meeting and the teams still will play twice more after this. On Dec. 30 in Los Angeles, the Clippers lost 107-88 as 8-point favorites on NBA odds. Goran Dragic led the Suns with 26 points and eight assists and didn't play the fourth quarter because it was a rout. It was Phoenix's largest margin of victory over a team that was at least 10 games over .500 since 2007. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had an interesting line: two points and 19 rebounds. Paul was held to 11 points and was a team-worst minus-28. The Suns had a whopping 17 steals.
NBA free picks: Add the Clippers -3 and the under to your NBA picks for tonight. Yes the Suns have won 11 of past 12 at home in series but L.A. will want some payback for that earlier beatdown. The Suns are 1-4 ATS in their past five Tuesday games. The under is 5-0 in the past five meetings in Phoenix and 8-2 in the Suns' past 10 against teams with a winning record.