Clippers-Nets Preview

The Associated Press

Deron Williams had quite a comedown after his record-setting performance ahead of his first matchup of the season against Chris Paul.

The All-Star guards are forever linked after being selected one pick apart in the 2005 draft and will meet Wednesday night when Williams and the New Jersey Nets host Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers.

All eyes were on Williams on Tuesday in his first game since his franchise-record 57 points in Sunday's 104-101 win at Charlotte. He mustered 16 points as New Jersey (12-27) fell behind by 13 points after one quarter and 27 at the half of a 108-78 loss at Miami.

"This team is better than us and they came out and played like it," Williams said. "No reason to analyze it."

There was endless debate on which guard was better when Williams was taken third overall by Utah and Paul fourth by New Orleans back in 2005. They met numerous times in matchups between the Jazz and Hornets, but this will their first meeting with their current teams.

Paul was out with a left hamstring strain for a 101-91 home win over New Jersey on Jan. 16. Blake Griffin had 23 points and 14 rebounds and Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups each scored 20 as the Clippers (22-14) ended a three-game slide in the series.

Los Angeles has split the first four games of its six-game trip after falling 95-94 at Minnesota on Monday. Griffin had 26 and 12 but also was assessed a costly technical foul in the fourth quarter.

"We gotta keep our composure," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "They know it, we talked about it. They know you can't do that in the fourth quarter. Technicals beat you. We lost by one point, gave them two points at the line so it doesn't make a lot of sense, not a smart play."

The technical was part of a poor fourth quarter for Griffin in which he missed all four free throws and only had two baskets.

"I think there was a lot of frustration," Griffin said. "We have to do a better job of not letting that affect us. You don't want to say that one particular thing won or lost the game, but it very well could've been. I have to do a better job controlling my emotions."

A good indicator of the Clippers' success on this trip has been the play of Newark native Randy Foye, who has averaged 15.5 points on 60.0 percent shooting in the victories and totaled seven points on 3-of-16 shooting in the defeats.

Los Angeles figures to have an edge in the frontcourt against New Jersey, which is without injured big men Brook Lopez (ankle) and Mehmet Okur (back). The Nets were outrebounded 43-29 on Tuesday, with Lopez's replacement - Shelden Williams - finishing with no points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

"Our guys, you know, they are not quitters," coach Avery Johnson said. "They work hard, it just wasn't one of our better nights. But it wasn't necessarily because of a lack of effort."

The Nets are on a seven-game home slide, their longest since they dropped 14 straight Jan. 29-March 22, 2010.

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