Clippers at Suns
The Los Angeles Clippers are about to embark on their most rugged stretch of the season and it appears they'll start it off without All-Star point guard Chris Paul. The Clippers will attempt to avoid a third straight defeat when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night. It begins a grueling portion of the schedule that will see Los Angeles play 10 of its next 11 games away from home. Paul has missed four of the last six games with a bruised right kneecap, including Tuesday's showdown against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said after the Thunder loss that Paul was "day-to-day" but he emphasized the team will use caution so his star guard does not aggravate the injury again. Phoenix, which is tied with New Orleans for the worst record in the Western Conference, is undergoing a major reshuffling. The team fired coach Alvin Gentry and replaced him with player development director Lindsey Hunter, who won his debut against Sacramento on Wednesday night. Hunter's hiring led to one assistant coach leaving and another could be following suit.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (32-11): Los Angeles had a brutal back-to-back, losing at Golden State on Monday before falling at home to the Thunder. Blake Griffin was outstanding in the two defeats, scoring a season-high 31 points against Oklahoma City after putting up 26 vs. the Warriors. It was the highest two-game total of the season for Griffin, who also tied a season high with eight assists against Golden State. Griffin is riding a string of three consecutive double-doubles during which he is averaging 24.7 points and 11.7 rebounds.
ABOUT THE SUNS (14-28): Forward Michael Beasley appears intent on resurrecting his career. The enigmatic Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in 2008, was signed to a three-year, $18 million contract in the offseason but had fallen off the map until a 20-point performance against Chicago on Jan. 12. That was followed by only his second double-double of the season and led up to Wednesday's performance vs. the Kings, when Beasley scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. "All the things he's capable of we saw it tonight," Hunter said.
1. The Clippers snapped a 10-game losing streak in Phoenix with a 103-77 rout of the Suns on Dec. 23.
2. Beasley has averaged 20.2 points in 11 career games against Los Angeles.
3. Phoenix is attemping to avoid its first five-game home losing streak since March 2004.