Clippers (32-22) vs. Sacramento Kings (19-35) at Power Balance Pavilion, 7 p.m. PT
Five storylines to track:
1. Starting over: The Clippers will attempt to start a new winning streak Thursday against the Kings after they had their six-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday against the Lakers. It was the team’s longest winning streak since March 18-31, 1992. The Clippers also had a seven-game home winning streak broken in the loss. The Clippers hadn’t won seven straight since 1991. Despite the loss, the Clippers are still 10 games over .500 (32-22). It is only the third time that the Clippers have been more than five games over .500 this many games into a season since moving to Los Angeles in 1984. They finished the season eight games over .500 in 1991-92 and 12 games over .500 in 2005-06. Those are the only two seasons in which the Clippers finished over .500 since moving to L.A. The Clippers’ 32-21 record this season after 53 games is also the second best in franchise history, trailing the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves who were 34-19 after 53 games.
2. Butler did it: If there is an X-factor on the Clippers this season, it’s Caron Butler. The Clippers are 18-9 when he scores 13 or more points and 12-7 when he had 5 or more rebounds. Against the Lakers, Butler scored a season-high 28 points, going 9-of-18 from the field, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, while grabbing 4 rebounds in 34 minutes. It was the most points Butler has scored in a game since he had 30 on Dec. 30, 2010 as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. It is the first time this season Butler has had over 25 points for the Clippers.
3. Clutch CP3: Clippers guard Chris Paul had 22 points and a season-high 16 assists against the Lakers on Wednesday. It was his 124th career game with at least 20 points and 10 assists and the most assists in a game for Paul since Jan. 26, 2011 when he had 17 for the New Orleans Hornets. It was the 17th time in Paul’s career that he has had 20 or more points and 16 or more assists and the first time since Dec. 18, 2009 when he had 30 points and 19 assists in a win over Denver. Paul is the only player in the NBA this season to average over 19.0 points and 9.0 assists per game and 2.0 steals.
4. Playoffs?: Perhaps the biggest fallout from the Clippers’ loss to the Lakers was where it put them in the race for the Pacific Division. Even if they beat the Kings in Sacramento on Thursday, they will be two full games behind the Lakers, who now hold the all-important tie-breaker if they finish with the same record. Suddenly their goal now with 12 games left in the season will be to secure the No. 4 seed and at least have home court advantage in the first round. If the Clippers beat the Kings they will be two games up on the Grizzlies and Mavericks and three games up on the Rockets and Nuggets.
5. Dunk City: After Blake Griffin’s two highlight reel dunks on Pau Gasol last night, he now has 154 dunks, the most in the NBA by 21. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is third in the league with 116 dunks. Jordan is the only player in the NBA to have at least 115 dunks and 115 blocks this season. As a team the Clippers have recorded 82 alley-oop dunks this season, most in the NBA, followed by the Lakers with 70 and the Knicks with 59. The Clippers also have recorded the most dunks this season with 318.