NBA Basketball Picks: Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Hornets
Thursday, March 22, 2012
by Joe Rodriguez
In the midst of playing three road games in as many nights, Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers will end their back-to-back-to-back set this evening against the New Orleans Hornets in the Big Easy.
Tonight's game is especially important for Clippers All-Star guard Paul, as he will face his former team for the first time since he was traded to Los Angeles in the offseason. Paul was drafted by the Hornets with the fourth overall pick back in 2005 and averaged 18.7 points, 9.9 assists and 2.4 steals over 425 career games with the Hornets.
In 23 playoff games, Paul, who requested a trade out of New Orleans, posted averages of 21.9 points, 11.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds. The Wake Forest product also recorded 16.1 points and 7.8 assists to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors.
The Clippers have lost the first two tests of the exhausting trip and suffered a 114-91 loss at Oklahoma City last night. Blake Griffin scored a career-low seven points on 3-of-11 shooting for Los Angeles, which lost the opener of the trek in Indiana and has dropped seven of 11 overall.
"He has shouldered a lot of the load for us this season and he just had one of those games," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said of Griffin.
Randy Foye led Los Angeles with 23 points and Paul added 13 points and 10 assists. The Clippers are 2 1/2 games behind the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead and seeded fifth in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles, which is 11-12 on the road, will head home after tonight to begin a five-game residency versus Memphis, New Orleans, Phoenix, Portland and Utah.
Meanwhile, the Hornets will continue a three-game homestand Thursday and are coming off Wednesday's 101-92 loss to Golden State.
Jarrett Jack posted the first triple-double of his career with 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Chris Kaman and Xavier Henry both scored 13 points for New Orleans, which has dropped eight of 10 games and fell to 4-20 as the host this season.
"It is what it is. It did not contribute to a win, but it's cool," Jack said of his triple-double. "Don't get me wrong, obviously, it is an accomplishment."
New Orleans committed 16 turnovers to Golden State's nine and will close out the homestand Saturday versus San Antonio. The Hornets are last in the Southwest Division.
The Hornets and Clippers are meeting for the first time since New Orleans took two of three matchups a year ago. The Hornets have dominated the Clippers lately with 15 wins over the past 16 encounters. The Clippers are winless in eight straight games as the guest in this series.
Vegas-Sports Betting Prediction: Los Angeles 95, New Orleans 87
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