Clippers-Nets Preview


Chris Paul and Deron Williams took the blame for recent defeats by their respective teams.

Fault may not matter this time, but one of these star point guards is about to suffer another loss.

Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers will try to beat Williams' Brooklyn Nets on the road for just the second time in 14 tries Friday night.

Paul is vital to Los Angeles' success, ranking second in the NBA with 9.9 assists per game, and tied for second with 2.4 steals.

He's also averaging 15.6 points, but didn't come close to that in Wednesday's 117-111 overtime loss at Oklahoma City, ending the Clippers' six-game winning streak. The five-time All-Star finished with nine points, missing 12 of 14 from the field and all three 3-point attempts.

"I think the frustrating part is we had an opportunity to win and, regardless of what anybody says, it's going to be hard for us to win a game when I play that bad," said Paul, who had nine assists, five rebounds and four steals.

"It's tough because you work so hard, but there's going to be nights like that," he said.

Williams may sympathize with his teammate from last summer's gold medal-winning Olympic team.

The same night Paul turned in his worst shooting performance of the season, Williams converted 4 of 12 field goals - 0 for 5 from long range - and totaled a season-low nine points in a 102-93 loss at Golden State.

The Nets (6-4) shot 73.7 percent in the first quarter and led by 12 points, but went 24 of 64 (37.5 percent) the rest of the way to lose their second straight following a five-game winning streak.

"When we saw that lead, we got a little greedy and started thinking we could do it by ourselves," Williams said. "A lot of what happened out there was my fault. We didn't (do) the little things that you need to do to win games."

They've done enough at home, where the Nets are 4-1 while averaging 100.2 points compared to 92.4 on the road.

Williams has been a big part of that success, averaging 20.8 points and 9.4 assists. In the most recent meeting against the visiting Clippers (8-3), he scored 21 points and dished out 10 assists, including one on the go-ahead 3 with 0.2 seconds left in a 101-100 victory March 7.

Paul had 22 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and five steals in that meeting, but Los Angeles fell for the 12th time in 13 road games against the Nets.

Blake Griffin can't be blamed for losing the last two matchups since he's totaled 51 points and 26 rebounds. The All-Star forward also did his part Wednesday, making 9 of 16 field goals for 23 points as Los Angeles split the first two of this four-game trip, which ends Saturday in Atlanta.

He may have to contend with Brooklyn's Brook Lopez, who leads the team with 18.7 points after scoring 22 against the Warriors. He's scored 22 or more in five of his last six games.

Lopez has totaled 48 points on 20 of 37 from the field in his last two meetings with the Clippers, but injuries prevented him from appearing in both matchups last season.