5 Things to Know: Griffin, Clippers Head to MSG for Showdown Against Knicks
1. On Monday night, the Lakers adjusted the starting lineup responded in a major way by jumping out to a 29-19 lead over the Knicks. The home team staged a fourth quarter rally but it eventually came up short in a 121-107 defeat to Los Angeles. In the Lakers lone trip to MSG, they evened the season series behind Lou Williams’ 22 points. Carmelo Anthony posted 26 points on an efficient 10-of-17 shooting from the floor and Brandon Jennings added 16 off the pine.
2. Joakim Noah missed Monday’s contest due to a sore left hamstring. He left Saturday’s game against the Cavaliers and did not return to action. For the matchup against the Clippers, Noah is not expected to rejoin the lineup. On Monday, head coach Jeff Hornacek started Kyle O’Quinn at the center spot while Willy Hernangomez played a majority of the time at the 5 with 24 minutes of court time.
3. New York currently sits in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings. While the recent stretch of games has been troubling for the orange and blue, there’s an optimistic viewpoint for their position. At 22-31, the Knicks are just 2.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons for that elusive eighth cutoff spot for the playoffs. New York will face the Clippers tonight, Denver on Friday, and the Thunder in Oklahoma City next Wednesday before the All-Star break.
4. The Clippers have been snake bit over the last several seasons with injuries to their stars. Just as Blake Griffin returned from injury on January 24, Chris Paul exited with a significant setback (torn ligament in left thumb) and Los Angeles was forced to adjust its lineup once again. The Clippers compiled a 10-9 record without Griffin in the lineup and just 2-6 since Paul was sidelined, including three straight defeats heading into Wednesday’s tilt against the Knicks. Head coach Doc Rivers has placed Raymond Felton and Austin Rivers in the backcourt to counter the loss of Paul. Due to the adjustment, the Clippers are fairly small with J.J. Redick in the starting group next to Griffin and Deandre Jordan. Los Angeles is 31-21 overall on the season and a game over .500 in road contests.
5. On Monday, DeMar DeRozan jumped back in the floor in spectacular fashion with 31 points in 38 minutes. DeRozan’s big night powered the Raptors to a 118-109 home win over the Clippers. Los Angeles produced from an offensive standpoint but Toronto’s 26-of-29 clip at the free throw line was the difference in the high-scoring affair.
by Jonah Ballow