(Sports Network) - Blake Griffin hasn't scored less than 10 points since the
calendar flipped to 2013 and the leading scorer for the Los Angeles Clippers
will try to get his team back on track Sunday versus the Detroit Pistons.
Griffin is averaging team highs of 18.6 points and 8.7 rebounds for a Clippers
squad that has dropped two of three games since winning eight of nine. The
mini slump started with a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but a subsequent
victory over the Milwaukee Bucks settled things.
But Los Angeles, which leads the Pacific Division and is fourth in the West,
went back a step with Thursday's 107-92 road defeat at the hands of the
sizzling Denver Nuggets. Griffin had 17 points and Chris Paul collected 16
points and 10 assists for L.A.
"They're a good team, they forced the tempo," LA coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The game was even at 49 apiece at halftime, but the Nuggets registered a 36-26
advantage in the third quarter. Denver won the season series with the Clippers
and that could play a role when playoff seeds are decided. Denver is fifth in
the conference -- two games in back of the Clippers.
Los Angeles missed top reserve and second-leading scorer Jamal Crawford, who
sat out with a sore left ankle. Crawford is a tight defender around the
perimeter and is averaging 17.2 ppg. In the previous four games, Crawford is
averaging 23.0 ppg. The Sixth Man of the Year candidate has shot better than
50 percent in all six of his games since the All-Star break.
Paul, who has 50 assists to six turnovers in his last five games, is 25 points
away from 10,000 in his career. He had 14 points in the first meeting with
Detroit this season and is averaging 17.7 ppg in 13 career games against the
The Clippers will play three straight and five of six games at home, and are
24-7 as the host this season. They are 37-8 in the last 45 regular-season
games at home.
Detroit will hobble into Staples Center, having lost four in a row and seven
of eight games.
In Friday's tough 102-99 loss versus the Dallas Mavericks, Charlie Villanueva
had a chance to send the game into overtime but missed a 3-pointer at the
buzzer. He ended with 12 points for the Pistons, who rallied from 15 points
down in the fourth quarter, only to lose again. Villanueva and Khris Middleton
combined for 22 points in the fourth quarter.
"I thought our guys took the challenge in the second half and came back much
better defensively," Pistons coach Brian Hill said. "We got a couple of good
looks at the end. The plays leading up to that hurt us the most."
Hill took over his second game for coach Lawrence Frank, who is back at home
with his ill wife. Brandon Knight scored 21 points and Greg Monroe ended with
14 and 10 rebounds. Monroe is averaging 20.8 points and 9.8 boards in his last
On the bright side for the Pistons, they rank first in the Eastern Conference
and third in the NBA in points in the paint with 46.0.
The Pistons are opening a four-game western trek Sunday and will also visit
Utah, Golden State and Portland. They are just 8-21 on the road.
Detroit dropped an 88-76 home decision to the Clippers on Dec. 17 and has
lost three straight and five of the past six matchups between the teams.
However, the Pistons are 14-5 in the previous 19 games in this series.
The Sports Network