LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
Saturday, Nov. 11 (6 p.m.)
Is there a better NBA frontcourt matchup at the power forward and center positions than when the Pelicans and Clippers meet? In a league that’s increasingly downsizing, New Orleans and L.A. are the rare teams who boast outstanding players at both spots. Pelicans bigs Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are perennial All-Stars, while Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have comprised two-thirds of the Clippers’ recent leading trio (the other member, point guard Chris Paul, left for Houston this summer). Although Jordan isn’t an elite offensive player, Davis (28.0 points per game) and Cousins (27.0) ranked fourth and seventh, respectively, in the NBA last season in scoring average. Griffin was 27th, putting up 21.6 points a game during an injury-hit campaign. The Nov. 11 meeting between the Pelicans and Clippers won’t be televised nationally, but the league’s TV network partners thought highly enough of this matchup of quality big men to pick up two second-half games between the Western Conference squads.
The Nov. 11 date is a bit precarious on paper for the Pelicans, as the first home game back in Louisiana following a somewhat odd four-game, eight-day road trip that makes stops in Dallas, Chicago, Indiana and Toronto. Entering the Veterans Day game against the Clippers, the Pelicans will have already played eight road games, but only four home tilts in the Smoothie King Center.
Paul’s departure marked the breakup of a six-year partnership at the top of the Clippers’ roster between the former New Orleans franchise player, Griffin and Jordan. The “Lob City” era was marked by consistent regular season excellence, but annual postseason disappointment, including coughing up a 3-1 series lead to Houston in the 2015 West second round. Paul has now joined those Rockets and fellow All-Star guard James Harden, while the Clippers will try to regroup behind an influx of role players. Danilo Gallinari was a big-money free-agent addition and will start at small forward, but recently injured his thumb landing a punch in a friendly between Italy and the Netherlands. In exchange for Paul, the Clips gained a large cast of veterans that could help keep them a playoff team, led by Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams. Overseas pickup Milos Teodosic brings great intrigue; a popular YouTube video claims the Serbian is “the best passing point guard in the world.”
Wednesday, Feb. 7, L.A. Clippers at New Orleans
Tuesday, March 6, New Orleans at L.A. Clippers (TNT)
Monday, April 9, New Orleans at L.A. Clippers (ESPN)