NBA West: Steve Nash Hits Historic Assist Mark, Clipper vs. Mavericks Preview
Just when the Lakers pinned their hopes on the Steve Nash return to turn things around, they are now without Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol indefinitely. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni announced prior to Tuesday’s game that he would start Robert Sacre and then either Antawn Jamison or Darius Morris against the Houston Rockets.
Change was not good in this case and the Lakers lost 125-112–their fourth in a row.
The Oklahoma City Thunder (26-8) started their long road trip on Monday night and got off to a rough start, losing to the lowly Washington Wizards (5-28), 101-99. The Wizards Bradley Beal hit a last-second shot to defeat the top team in the league. The Thunder went cold in the third quarter and continued to do so for part of the fourth.
After the game, Kevin Durant admitted the team had not taken the game seriously enough.
The Los Angeles Clippers (27-8) have now returned to the top spot of the Western Conference. On Wednesday, they will host the Dallas Mavericks (13-22).
The Clippers sit at +400 to win this year’s NBA Championship.
Nash Hits 10,000th Assist
While it was a disappointing Tuesday for the Lakers, Nash reached assist No. 10,000 and now sits among five NBA players in history to do so. He joins John Stockton (15,806), Jason Kidd (11,969 and still adding to it), Mark Jackson (10,334) and Magic Johnson (10,141).
But with the Lakers losing another game, it took away from the honor.
Nash said via ESPN, “If I take a step back, it’s another example of a fairy-tale career, but it’s really hard to enjoy it right now,” Nash said after the Lakers’ fourth straight loss, which dropped their overall record to 15-19. I don’t want to discredit it; I don’t want to not appreciate the company I share in this milestone. But right now, that’s the farthest thing from my mind. I’m just trying to find a way to win one game.”
The player also admitted the possibility of not making it to the playoffs this year. At 15-19, the Lakers sit 11.5 games behind first place.
Nash added, “That motivates me every day. There’s no guarantee (that the Lakers make the playoffs). I think three or four weeks ago, people would have said, ‘Ah, it will get better.’ Now I definitely don’t think there’s a guarantee it will, so the only remedy is continue to work hard and give yourself a chance for it to get better.
Clippers vs. Mavericks
While their 17-game win streak snapped as soon as the calendar turned to January, the Clippers still have a team-record home win streak at 13 and will try to keep this alive on Wednesday.
In their last home game against the Warriors on Saturday, Chris Paul had 27 points and nine assists; he has been averaging 26.7 points per game with 55.1 percent shooting over the last three games.
Blake Griffin is also playing well and in his last two games, he’s had 44 points while going 17 for 28 in shooting. In the last game against the Mavericks, Griffin had 19 points with 13 rebounds.
It should then come as no surprise that Clippers sit at the top of the NBA with points in the paint (47.0 per game) and at home, they have a 107.1-point average during their dozen-game home streak–greater points than their 101.9-point season average.
This won’t bode well for Dallas; they don’t play well on road, going 1-13 when their opponents score in the century mark or higher.
The Mavericks have also lost their last eight of nine while on the road and on Monday, they lost their third consecutive game.
Dirk Nowitzki has returned to the lineup and that doesn’t appear to have much effect. He has admitted he still needs to get in better shape but in his last three games, he’s scored 19 points or more.
For Wednesday, the Clippers will keep their streak alive (-10.5, 200.5 o/u).