Pelicans Seek Faster Start Vs. Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans will try to rebound from poor performances when they meet on Monday at Staples Center.

The Clippers lost to the visiting Detroit Pistons 109-104 on Saturday afternoon. Adding to the frustration, their former No.1 overall draft pick, Blake Griffin, scored 44 points in his first game against them in Los Angeles. 

The Pelicans are coming off a 110-106 loss at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night, which dropped them to 5-17 on the road this season. 

New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry, who was an assistant coach with the Clippers during the 1990-91 season, their head coach from 2000-03, and an associate head coach again in 2013-14. said the Pelicans need to be better prepared at the start of games. 

"I've got to have my team ready to play. It's my responsibility," Gentry told reporters after the loss to the Timberwolves. "Coach has to be able to have them motivated enough that the game means something and they play. I'm not pointing fingers just at the team, I'm pointing fingers at myself also. Got to do a better job." 

Gentry said it's not any one area the Pelicans are lacking. 

"It's the whole approach to the game," he said. "We make shots, OK, we make shots, but there are all other phases of the game that you have to be good at. ... If we want to be a playoff team, we've got to change a lot of things that we're doing." 

The Pelicans should benefit from having one of the top centers in the NBA when they take on the Clippers for the third time this season. 

Anthony Davis is averaging 28.9 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. He had 34 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks in a 116-109 win against the visiting Clippers on Oct. 23, and finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds in a 129-126 loss in New Orleans on Dec. 3. 

Davis has scored at least 30 points in the past three games and has produced 13 consecutive double-doubles. 

He's a big reason the Pelicans lead the NBA in points in the paint (57.9) for the second consecutive season, which accounts for 49.5 percent of their offense. New Orleans is also second in the NBA in second-chance points (15.2). 

That could be a problem against the Clippers, who have mostly featured a smaller lineup in recent games. Marcin Gortat starts at center for Los Angeles, but he hasn't played more than 17 minutes in the past three games. 

The Clippers often have four guards on the floor. 

"When you have that many guys that can handle the ball, the biggest thing is just to rebound, even though you are at a disadvantage playing against big men," said Clippers backup shooting guard Tyrone Wallace. "Once we get the ball, we're able to get up and play fast." 

Los Angeles also has the highest-scoring group of reserves in the NBA. Led by guard Lou Williams and power forward Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers are averaging 52.5 bench points a game this season, putting them on pace to have the NBA's highest-scoring reserve unit in more than 30 seasons. 

"We have a lot of different guys in here that can go off for big nights on any given night," Harrell said. 

Copyright © 2019 TTWN Media Networks LLC Photo: Getty Images

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