Sacramento (4-14) at LA Clippers (4-17)

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO, STATS Writer Monday, Dec 6, 2010 Tipoff: 10:30 pm EST Mon Dec 6, 2010

Blake Griffin(notes) is proving he can be a force in an effort to help turn around the moribund Los Angeles Clippers. They may still be far from contenders, but the former top overall draft pick is giving them reason for hope.

Griffin seeks his ninth consecutive double-double Monday night when the Clippers attempt to beat the Sacramento Kings for the second time in less than two weeks.

Griffin’s averages of 20.6 points and 11.8 rebounds rank first among NBA rookies. He ranks second in double-doubles with 14, one back of Minnesota’s Kevin Love(notes) and the Lakers’ Pau Gasol(notes).

He’ll likely find himself matched up against Gasol in the frontcourt when the Clippers (4-17) face the Lakers on Wednesday after opening their four-game homestand against the Kings (4-14).

Originally expected to make an immediate impact out of Oklahoma as the top overall pick in the 2009 draft, Griffin is showing he’s put the fractured knee that caused him to miss all of last season behind him.

Griffin is averaging 27.1 points and 13.9 boards during a streak of eight straight double-doubles - including a 25-point, 15-rebound effort in a 100-82 home win over Sacramento on Nov. 25.

Even with Griffin’s production, the Clippers own the NBA’s worst record and have dropped four of five. However, three of their four wins this season have come against teams with winning records - San Antonio, New Orleans and Oklahoma City.

“We’re right there,” guard Eric Gordon(notes) said. “We’ve been in this situation many times, where it’s coming down close at the end of games. We just have to finish them off.”

Gordon has been another bright spot for Los Angeles, leading the team with 24.1 points per game. He had 28 against the Kings last month.

Sacramento also believes it’s making progress after a lineup shuffle created a jolt of offense in a 105-103 loss to Dallas on Saturday. The Kings, who had averaged 83.2 points during the first six losses on their current seven-game skid, had the ball for the final play with 11.5 seconds left, but failed to get a shot off after Cal Landry turned the ball over.

Sacramento is 1-13 since a promising 3-1 start to 2010-11.

Coach Paul Westphal may opt to keep the lineup the same after inserting DeMarcus Cousins(notes) at center and Beno Udrih(notes) at guard. The duo combined for 33 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists while the Kings hit a season-high 11 3-pointers against the Mavericks.

“I thought that the group that started played fantastically well,” Westphal said. “We were moving the ball, we were hitting shots. we went toe-to-toe and got the better of a great team for most of the game.”

Tyreke Evans(notes) had 25 points and eight assists Saturday after averaging 14.4 points and 5.7 assists in the Kings’ previous six losses. The guard’s worst performance in that span came at Los Angeles, where he made 2 of 13 shots and finished with eight points.

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