LOS ANGELES-The Los Angeles Clippers continue to roll, securing a methodical 93-77 win against the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center Wednesday night. It wasn’t an overly impressive victory, but it was a good, solid win nevertheless. And that’s more than what the team has been used to in previous years.
With the victory the Clippers now have won 11 games in a row, a number the organization haven’t reached since the 1974-75 season when the team was called the Buffalo Braves. The last time the Clippers lost a game it was to the Hornets back on Nov. 26.
One can make an argument that the Clippers are riding high right now. They’re on top of the NBA’s Pacific Division and have the second-best record in the league with a 19-6 mark. The team ranks first in the league in steals, sits third in dishing the ball and have vaulted to No. 4 in points allowed per game. In terms of team success, the Clippers have lobbed and dunked their way to some pretty impressive numbers more than a quarter of a way into the season.
Playing defense has become a point of emphasis for this year’s Clippers. Case in point, the Clippers held New Orleans to just 38 percent shooting, forcing the Hornets into a dismal 29-of-75 shooting from the floor. A statistic even more eye-popping is how the Clippers worked the Hornets into making just two of its 19 three-point shots during the game.
The Clippers aren’t used to be being in this position. But then again, there aren’t too many teams around the league stocked and loaded with the type of talent and leadership the Clippers have. While their much heralded hallway rivals have generated much of the buzz and hype with all of their high-profile transactions, the Clippers have quietly gone about their business to putting a top-tier product on the floor.
Even on a night when their stars Chris Paul (10 points, 12 assists) and Blake Griffin (18 points) didn’t particularly dominate the stat line, as atypical of this Clippers’ team, the contribution department doesn’t always rest on the shoulders of two people. The Clippers had five players, led by Griffin’s output and Jamal Crawford’s 17 points and five assists, to score in double-digits.
Taking a 10-point lead going into halftime, the Clippers effectively put the game out of reach by holding a 27-18 edge over the Hornets in the third quarter. And it was the Griffin and Paul show during the period that pushed any thoughts New Orleans may have had of a rally right out of the window. Both Griffin and Paul scored eight points apiece during the decisive third quarter to turn a ragged, sometime sloppy contest into a one-sided affair in favor of the Clippers.
On a night where Paul hit the 5,000 assists benchmark, it was fitting that Griffin would be the backend recipient of this feat by scoring off of a pass from the Clippers point guard.
“I think I was talking to Blake, and I asked him what was going on and he told me, even though he told all the guys in the locker room,” Paul said. “I told him I had 4,999 (assists), and he needed to shoot it the next time I gave it to him. It’s pretty cool, especially to do it here in front of our home crowd.”
Griffin said “it’s cool to be a part of that,” but hopes there will be many, many more assists to come for Paul and his teammates.
“That’s one of thousands,” Griffin said. “It’s cool to experience that, to be on the end of that, to be part of it as a team. But it’s definitely not the last.”