After a disappointing start to the season, things appeared to be coming together for the Los Angeles Clippers with second-year guard Eric Gordon continuing to show improvement on the court.
With Gordon now expected to be out at least 10 days with a sore left groin, it could be a little while before Los Angeles' offense resumes its resurgence.
The Clippers try to bounce back from a lackluster performance Wednesday night when they host an Oklahoma City Thunder team looking to avoid losing for the fifth time in six games.
Los Angeles (3-5) opened the season with four consecutive losses before winning three in a row with Gordon averaging 19.0 points on 52.8 percent shooting in those victories.
With center Chris Kaman controlling the paint, point guard Baron Davis running the offense and Gordon providing the scoring from the perimeter, the Clippers looked like they finally had found a successful offensive mix. They lost a piece of that lineup, though, when Gordon was hurt in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 113-110 victory over Memphis.
Gordon missed Monday's 112-84 loss to New Orleans, and the team announced the extent of his injury Tuesday.
Without Gordon against the Hornets, Los Angeles' offense looked completely out of sync, shooting 43.0 percent from the field after averaging 108.0 points on 50.2 percent shooting during the winning streak. Kaman had a season-low 14 points - down from 24.3 during the run - while Davis finished with eight points on 3 of 10 shooting after averaging 17.7 points in the previous three.
"We stopped doing the things that have been so good for us so far,'' Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We've been moving the ball and getting good shots for ourselves, but we missed some guys that were open, and didn't share the ball as well.''
Los Angeles will try and get its offense back on track against a Thunder team that has been inconsistent on the defensive end.
Oklahoma City (3-4) is allowing an average of 82.3 points on 38.8 percent shooting in four solid defensive games, going 3-1 in those contests. However, the Thunder are yielding 102.3 points on 50.2 percent shooting in losing its other three.
They arrive in Los Angeles following their fourth defeat in five games, 101-98 to Sacramento on Tuesday. Kevin Durant scored a season-high 37 points while making all 18 free throws, but missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer with a second left.
"The shot looked good when it left my hands. Hopefully the next time it goes in,'' said Durant, who missed 5 of 6 from 3-point range and is 6 of 32 from beyond the arc this season.
Durant got off to a slow start, missing 8 of 11 shots in the first half, but got going in the third quarter, penetrating frequently and drawing fouls to score 27 second-half points.
Durant averaged 28.8 points in four games against the Clippers last season, but the Thunder won just once.
These teams meet again Sunday in Oklahoma City.
Well the team should really give some minutes to Ricky. He has showed he deserves minutes as a role player. Butler needs to score some buckets and punish Harden. Baron must show-up. Baron has to teach the youngsters a lesson. I'm looking for a good game for Al. The spotlights on him. I believe he'll shine even against Durant. They have always competted together. The posts, Kaman and Camby better come with their A game tonight. Kaman should go to the WCPW status. Camby should be steady, knock down open shots, rebound, and play D, plain simple. Craig is going to play that's a good sign. Look for a good game off the bench (Bassy,Ricky,DJ,Craig). Overall, its going to be a fun game to watch, hope the clippers pull it out in crunch time! It will be tough, but they got to prove even without EG and BG they could win a darn game! Baron your the leader! Lead us to Land Ho! LETS GO CLIPPERS !