LOS ANGELES CA - FEBRUARY 2: Ike Diogu #50 of the Los Angeles Clippers dunks against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on February 2 2011 in Los Angeles California. The Bulls won 106-88. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic host the first of two Los Angeles teams to visit Amway Center this week tonight when the Clippers, led by All-Star rookie sensation Blake Griffin, come to town. Orlando's record is nearly a mirror-image of the Clippers--32-20 vs. 19-31--but don't be fooled: L.A., as Steve Perrin points out, owns an 18-18 record in its last 36 contests, with Orlando at 20-16. In other words, the Clippers' poor start masks how good they've been lately, and they're not an opponent Orlando can afford to take lightly.
With shooting guard Eric Gordon and center Chris Kaman out, the Clippers rely almost exclusively on Griffin for offense. And he's providing it. He's already wrapped up Rookie of the Year honors thanks to his per-game averages of 22.9 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. Orlando can actually afford to double- and triple-team him, though as he'll be sharing the court with unthreatening shooters like Baron Davis (41.6 percent from the field), Ryan Gomes (41.7 percent), and Randy Foye (36.5 percent). Coach Vinny Del Negro can counter with Brian Cook or Rasual Butler, but by and large Griffin is going to have to do a lot of scoring on his own tonight. He's more than capable, though, so the Magic have to watch out. I expect Earl Clark to spend some time on Blake Island tonight.
Don't lose sight of backup big man Ike Diogu, either. Since signing with L.A. as a free agent in December, Diogu's averaging 7 points and 4.2 rebounds in only 16.5 minutes per game. He can score inside with ease and will punish opponents for not boxing him out, particularly on the offensive end.
At the other end, the story is similar insofar as the Magic only have Dwight Howard providing offense on a nightly basis; the difference, and it's huge, is that Orlando surrounds him with shooters who are, in theory, lethal. In practice, it's been a different story. In their last 10 games, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, and Jameer Nelson have each shot below 40 percent from the floor and 35 percent on threes. That low conversion rate won't get it done.
Also, in this column, Perrin kindly asks you stop speculating where Griffin might sign as a free agent when his contract ends three years from now. Thanks.
|2010/2011 NBA Season|
|19-31 (3-17 road)
|32-20 (18-7 home)
|February 8th, 2011|
|Fox Sports Florida|
|Baron Davis||PG||Jameer Nelson|
|Randy Foye||SG||Jason Richardson|
|Ryan Gomes||SF||Hedo Turkoglu|
|Blake Griffin||PF||Ryan Anderson|
|DeAndre Jordan||C||Dwight Howard|
|December 12th: Magic 94, Clippers 85|
|2010/11 Advanced Stats|
|92.3 (14th)||Pace||92.1 (16th)|
|106.5 (16th)||ORtg||108.2 (11th)|
|109.2 (T-19th)||DRtg||102.5 (4th)|