If the Charlotte Bobcats are going to reach the playoffs for the first time, some improved play on the road could certainly help. Facing the Los Angeles Clippers might be just what they need to get started.
After opening a four-game trip with a loss, the Bobcats look to beat the Clippers for a fifth consecutive time Monday night.
Charlotte (27-27) holds the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, thanks in part to a 20-7 home record.
The Bobcats would be in much better shape to earn the first postseason appearance in their six-year history if not for a 7-20 road record. Only five teams have fewer road wins and they're all at least 15 games under .500.
Charlotte fell on the road again Saturday, trailing by as many as 20 in the third quarter before losing 93-88 at Milwaukee.
"When you have to fight uphill so much, you've got to be perfect," coach Larry Brown said.
After facing Los Angeles (22-33), Charlotte visits Utah on Wednesday before concluding the road swing at Memphis on Friday.
The Bobcats have won four in a row against the Clippers, including two matchups at Staples Center. Los Angeles has lost 10 of 12 overall and owns the fourth-worst record in the West.
Charlotte leading scorer Stephen Jackson has averaged 32.7 points over the last three road games, but Gerald Wallace has totaled just 16 in those contests - he missed one with an injury.
The Clippers, 15-12 at home, are looking to build on Saturday's 99-89 win over Sacramento. Despite committing 24 turnovers for a second consecutive game, Los Angeles ended a season-high six-game slide and got its first victory under interim coach Kim Hughes.
"I was very pleased with the overall effort, except for the dreaded turnovers - which is awful," said Hughes, who lost his first five games after replacing general manager Mike Dunleavy on the bench.
"A lot of them were unforced, and we've got to stop it. We're a work in progress. I mean, we don't know each other yet at all. Of course, it's a different chemistry we're trying to find, but a lot of it is us trying to do too much."
Los Angeles has averaged 19.5 turnovers over the last six games, and its 15.7 season average ranks among the worst in the league.
The Clippers are expected to have Drew Gooden available after acquiring him from Washington before Thursday's trade deadline in a three-team deal that sent Al Thornton to the Wizards and Sebastian Telfair to Cleveland.
Gooden was averaging 8.9 points and 6.9 rebounds in 46 games with Dallas before getting dealt to Washington on Feb. 13. Los Angeles will be his ninth team in eight seasons since being drafted fourth overall in 2002.
"I probably know every playbook in the league now, so they'll probably come to me for some scouting reports," Gooden said. "Once this team and the fans see me play out there, the first thing they'll be saying is: 'Why does this guy keep getting traded?' But it's the nature of the business, and I've kind of been a victim of that. And I totally understand that."
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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