March 1, 2012; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) dunks the ball against the Sacramento Kings in the first quarter at the Power Balance Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

North vs. South: Los Angeles Clippers (32-22) @ Sacramento Kings (19-35)

Where: Power Balance Pavilion, Sacramento, CA

When: Thursday April 5th, 2012 7:00 PM

Starting Lineups

Sacramento:                                                                       Los Angeles:

PG: Isaiah Thomas                                                       PG: Chris Paul

SG: Tyreke Evans                                                           SG: Randy Foye

SF: Francisco Garcia                                                    SF: Caron Butler

PF: Jason Thompson                                                   PF: Blake Griffin

C: Demarcus Cousins                                                    C: DeAndre Jordan

Injury Report:

Sacramento:                                                                                              Los Angeles:

SF John Salmons (HIP)-OUT                                                            SG Mo Williams (TOE)-PROBABLE

SG Marcus Thornton (CALF)-OUT                                                  PG CHAUNCEY BILLUPS (KNEE)-OUT

PF Jason Thompson (ANKLE)-STARTING

Preview:

If you want to see a Highlight Reel game tonight’s Clippers vs. Kings game is the place for you to be. 2010 Dunk Champion Blake Griffin and the Clippers drive in Sac-Town looking to avenge last nights loss against the rival Lakers. The Clippers fell apart late in the game, missing key shots and not executing their offensive game plan. But the one thing everyone took away from the game was Blake Griffins’ monster dunk over Pau Gasol, some even called it better then the dunk over Ibaka earlier in the year. The Clippers will be looking to attack the Kings 28th ranked defense, and that will mean a lot of dunks, alley-oops and put backs for the Clippers. As for the Kings, Demarcus Cousins is coming off a 41 point game, and will want to build off that momentum. The battle in the post will be fun to watch as Griffin and Deandre Jordan go up against Cousins and Jason Thompson. As for the PG’s, well it’s going to be another tough match up for Isaiah Thomas as he goes up against one of the in the business in Chris Paul. It is going to be a fun match up to watch on both ends of the court, and with the Kings recent history of play against playoff teams, we could be in store for another upset.

Keys to the Game:

1.) Give it to Cousins

-The hottest player on the team right now is big man Demarcus Cousins. Over the past 10 games he has averaged an impressive 24.7 PPG along with 11.2 RPG. His biggest performance was Tuesday Night against the Suns. In the second game of a back to back Cousins stepped up for a career high 41 Points (16/25 from the field) and 12 Rebounds. Unfortunately for the Kings, the 41 point performance wasn’t enough as the Kings lost 109-100. If the Kings want to have any chance against the Clippers, they have to get the ball inside to Cousins early and often. The more Cousins get the ball in the paint, the more likely it is Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will get into foul trouble and have to sit down. That might be just enough to give the Kings a chance against the Clippers.

2.) Play DEFENSE

-If their is anything the Kings have yet to do this year, it’s learn to play defense. Late addition Terrence Williams has brought a defensive presence on the court, but that’s one man against 5. The Clippers are an exciting, fast paced team who excel at getting down the court quickly and taking quick shots. While the Kings struggle nightly on defense, just doing simple things like getting back on defense after a turnover or big basket. The Kings can also focus on team defense, and making sure everyone is communicating. Both of these things don’t require an added skill set, all it takes is playing sound, smart basketball. If the Kings can do just these 2 small things, their defense will be better, and they will be able to keep pace with the Clippers.

3.) Get Physical with Blake

While Blake Griffin is well known for his highlight dunks and leaping ability. There is still one aspect of his game the Kings can attack. Blake Griffin has shown that when teams get physical with him, and aren’t afraid to push him down, he doesn’t perform at his usual All Star level. The key for the Kings tonight will be exactly that, push Griffin around in the paint, and don’t let him get the easy highlight dunks. It may get the Kings in foul trouble, but with the right game management it will work out in the end. While it is a tougher, more physical strategy, it will give the Kings their best chance to win.

Prediction: Clippers 106 Kings 102

Team MVP: Demarcus Cousins (26 Points, 13 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Steals)

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Tags: Blake Griffin Clippers Kings

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