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Clippers

Preview: Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings

Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins

Chris Paul tries to steal the ball from Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins in February. 

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Clippers will play their regular-season opener against the Kings at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Sacramento.

Last season, the Clippers nearly made the Western Conference finals for the first time in their then-45-year franchise history.

After eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers took a 3-1 series lead over the Houston Rockets in the second round. The Clippers then lost three games in a row to become the ninth team in NBA history to blow a series after having that kind of advantage.

A successful off-season followed that epic collapse. The Clippers re-signed DeAndre Jordan, luring him back to the team he had played for his entire career after the then-free agent had verbally committed to playing for the Dallas Mavericks.

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The Clippers also added nine new players to their roster, including 10-time All Star Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson — who is likely to start at small forward Wednesday — Josh Smith and Wesley Johnson.

The team now has a much-improved bench to play alongside two-time sixth man of the year Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers, whom the Clippers also re-signed during the off-season.

The Kings missed the playoffs for the ninth straight year last season, but they will have a new look heading into this year.

They added Rajon Rondo, Marco Belinelli, Quincy Acy, James Anderson and Kosta Koufos. Willie Cauley-Stein, whom the Kings selected as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, is expected to start alongside center DeMarcus Cousins at power forward.

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The Clippers won three of their four games against the Kings last season, and have gone 16-3 against them since Nov. 25, 2010.


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