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Game Preview: Pelicans at Clippers

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Can the Pelicans rebound from a dismal performance in the Bay to stop the Clippers six game winning streak?

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Pelicans (8-9) will play the second of a West Coast road trip and the first of a back-to-back when they roll into the Staples Center to face Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night. The Pelicans will try and piece themselves back together after their destruction inside the Oracle Arena when the Golden State Warriors handed us a 112-85 loss.

The good news is the Pels have responded well after beatdowns so far this season. They have lost four games by nine points or more and have won three of the four games following those losses. The only time the Pels lost by 20+ points, they responded with a win in Utah.

Smooth Sailing Clippers

Tonight's opponent, however, will not be the Jazz. The Clippers (13-5) have had a short respite from game action, last playing at home on Wednesday and thrashing the Orlando Magic 114-86. They are currently owners of a six game winning streak with wins against the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Orlando Magic.

**Side note, the Clips follow the Pels game with the Suns (at home), Pacers, Wizards, Bucks, Pistons, Pacers, Nuggets and Bucks. What do the Pels have to do to get this type of schedule???

Under the Lights Downtown

This game will feature the marquee matchup of two of the top power forwards in the NBA when Blake Griffin tries to contain Anthony Davis, and vice versa. In 2013-14, Griffin was a brute and averaged 21.0 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists, .8 steals and 1 block in 4 games against New Orleans.

This season, Griffin has hit his stride during the Clippers winning streak, albeit against some soft competition (as noted above). Griffin is averaging 23.2 ppg during that span while shooting close to 53% from the field.

Anthony Davis is just Anthony Davis. Admittedly, he found himself pushed around at times against Griffin last year, but the only thing that has stopped him so far this season has been an illness. He will get his tonight. It's the rest of our squad we need to worry about.

Another intriguing matchup will be Jrue Holiday vs. Chris Paul. This is where I point out that during the last meeting between the Pels and Clippers, CP3 set a Clippers record by shooting 0 for 12 from the field. I do not know if the law of averages will drastically swing in his favor tonight, but I expect Jrue to perform like he did against Russell Westbrook than perform like he did against Steph Curry.

Keys to Victory

Tyreke Evans. As in, Tyreke Evans cannot have a game like he did against the Warriors. He struggles against teams with long, athletic shot blockers that patrol the rim. I have no doubt that he can get past whomever Doc Rivers assigns to guard him. I do not have confidence in Tyreke’s ability to finish well with Deandre Jordan hanging around the rim. This was evidenced last season when Tyreke went a combined 11-39 (28.2%) from the field in the three games versus the Clippers. He needs to realize early that if he is not getting many clean looks at the basket with Jordan in the game, affect the game in other ways: get assists, play defense, do not settle for step back jumpers and do not turn the ball over. Exceptional players know how to make a positive impact even when they are not able to put the ball in the basket. For the Pels to be successful, Tyreke needs to have this sort of impact on the game.

Rebound. This will probably always be a key to victory for me, especially while playing on the road against a tough opponent. The Pels can simply not afford to put forth a rebounding performance like they did against the Warriors on Thursday night. The Warriors had an Offensive Rebouding Percentage of 32.7%! So, the Warriors basically grabbed 1 out of every 3 offensive rebound opportunities while the Pels netted 1 out of every 5.

How did the Pels rebound against the Thunder in the previous game when they beat the Kevin Durant-led Thunder? The Pels grabbed 30.8% of available offensive rebounds while the Thunder only managed 21.4%. Those extra shots and touches add up during the course of a game and are a major difference between handling the Thunder or being throttled by the Warriors.

Turnovers: The Pels need to take care of the basketball. Against the Warriors, Jrue Holiday and Tyreke combined for 11 turnovers. Turning the ball over that frequently leads to easy transition buckets for the opposing team. Against the Warriors, this is precisely what happened and was one of the main reasons for making up the deficit they encountered after the first quarter.  Now, the Pels have been one of the best teams at taking care of the ball this season, so I do not see them setting nor approaching another season high in turnovers.

Final Tidbit

The Pels organization always seems to take at least one game a year from the CP3-led Clippers. Will they get their victory tonight?

Injuries: Eric Gordon (out; torn labrum)

Reggie Bullock (questionable; sprained ankle)

Chris Douglas-Roberts (out; torn right Achilles)

New Faces: Gal Mekel, Pelicans (** You can read more about Gal Mekel here.)

TV: FSNO

Radio: WWL 105.3

Time: 9:30 PM CST

Here is a link to our friends over at Clips Nation.