A three-game winning streak has the Los Angeles Clippers feeling a lot better after a slow start to the season. Beating the New Orleans Hornets at home for the first time in three years would only improve their confidence.
The Clippers will try to end a nine-game slide against the Hornets on Monday night, as they also seek to win four in a row overall for the first time in two years.
Los Angeles (3-4) was one of the worst teams in the NBA last season, finishing 19-63 and missing the playoffs for the 11th time in 12 years. The team didn’t show much improvement to start 2009-10, losing its first three games.
The Clippers have since bounced back in strong fashion, reeling off three wins in a row - including a 113-110 victory over Memphis on Saturday - to match their longest winning streak from last season. They haven’t won four straight since going 4-0 to open 2007-08.
“We scraped it out (Saturday) and we got some stops down the stretch,” said center Chris Kaman(notes), who had 26 points and nine rebounds - both team highs - against the Grizzlies. “It was good to get another win. We’ve just got to keep building on this. I’m happy where we’re at right now, but we’ve got to continue to play hard and try to get some more wins.”
If the Clippers are going to continue their strong play, they’ll need to end a nine-game slide against New Orleans (2-5). They’ve also dropped five in a row to the Hornets at Staples Center since a 92-76 victory Nov. 12, 2006.
A resurgent Kaman could play a major role in ending those losing streaks. He leads Los Angeles with averages of 23.0 points and 9.9 rebounds after averaging 12.0 and 8.0, respectively, while injuries limited him to 31 games last season.
Kaman has averaged 11.9 points and 10.7 boards in his last seven games against the Hornets.
The Hornets are aiming to continue their dominance of the Clippers and avoid losing at Staples Center for the second consecutive night. They shot a season-low 35.6 percent Sunday en route to a 104-88 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“They’re a really good team, and we’re a team that’s a work in progress,” said guard Chris Paul(notes), who had a season-low 15 points. “They beat us in all aspects of the game. We’re just trying to find something that works. We’re missing defense and the ability to score.”
New Orleans, which fell 107-90 at home to Toronto on Friday, is also looking to avoid its first three-game slide since losing four in a row Jan. 30-Feb. 4.
Despite Sunday’s lackluster performance, Paul leads the Hornets with 26.6 points and 9.7 assists per game. The two-time All-Star is averaging 14.9 points and 11.9 assists during the Hornets’ nine-game winning streak against the Clippers. He went 13 for 19 from the floor, finishing with 30 points while dishing out 14 assists to power a 104-98 victory over the Clippers on April 1 - the last meeting in Los Angeles between these clubs.