Clips hope to have Paul back, as they start long trip in Minnesota

Published January 30, 2013

| Sports Network

All-Star point guard Chris Paul will be a game-time decision when the Los Angeles Clippers kick off their annual Grammy road trip Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Paul has missed four straight games with a bruised kneecap and has played twice in the last nine contests, with the Clippers going 4-3 in those games. Paul is averaging 16.6 points and 9.7 assists this season for Los Angeles, which will embark on a 13-day, eight-game odyssey and is 13-8 on the road this season. In two seasons, the team is 7-6 in games Paul has missed.

It is the longest road trip for the Clippers since 2010-11, when they went 2-9 on a record-setting 11-game trek from Feb. 4-25, 2011. L.A. has dropped its last three games on the road.

The Clippers ended a season high-tying four-game losing streak with a 96-83 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in the back end of a home-and- home series from Staples Center. Blake Griffin led the Clips with 23 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals, while Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe added 12 and 10 points, respectively.

"Blake is the guy out there right now," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "For us to win, Blake has to play at a high level. He's unselfish and makes other players better."

The Clippers shot 51.2 percent from the field and avenged a 101-100 loss at Portland on Saturday. They managed to outscore the Blazers in the paint, recording a 56-24 advantage inside.

Los Angeles will also visit the Raptors, Celtics, Wizards, Magic, Heat. Knicks and 76ers on the eastern excursion, and is 10-4 against the Eastern Conference.

Minnesota has fallen on hard times with injuries and will start a six-game homestand Wednesday versus the Clippers, Lakers, Hornets, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Knicks. It is 11-7 in the Twin Cities this season.

The Timberwolves recently dropped a 102-101 decision at Charlotte on Saturday as Luke Ridnour posted 22 points, J.J. Barea chipped in 19 and Ricky Rubio ended with a season-high 14 points and eight assists in the loss, Minnesota's fourth in a row and ninth in the previous 10 tries.

Charlotte erased an 18-point deficit at one point, which was the largest margin to overcome and win this season, and received a big 3-point shot from Gerald Henderson with 4.6 seconds left. Charlotte made a season-high 50.7 percent from the floor.

"I was thinking to put the guys on the floor that are playing well and I didn't care if they were 5-foot-nothing," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "I just said let's find five that can make that push."

Minnesota is still without forward Kevin Love (hand), guard Brandon Roy (knee), center Nikola Pekovic (quadriceps) and forward Chase Budinger (knee). Pekovic is listed as probable versus the Clippers.

The Timberwolves have lost the first two of four meetings with the Clippers this season and will visit Staples Center April 10. L.A. has won three straight against Minnesota.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2013/01/30/clips-hope-to-have-paul-back-as-start-long-trip-in-minnesota/