After what was widely considered the best offseason in Los Angeles Clippers history, all eyes were on the Clippers to live up to their new found expectations. The NBA lockout and its impact on the season forced the team to start playing regular season games right out of the gate and it showed.
The Clippers had poor spacing and lacked cohesion and familiarity on the court, leading to plenty of missed defensive assignments and a pair of blowout losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls.
Their record stood at one win and two losses and the other side of the media spotlight showed itself; the negative backlash.
Sure it was only three games, but it was a crucial moment for the Clippers. They had all seen and heard the talk of a new culture in Clipper Nation, of veterans and all-stars now around to make sure the team was ready for adversity. It was time to back up all the talk with some action.
Luckily for the team and its fans, we had Chris Paul on our side.
He took charge and put his fingerprints all over a big win over an undefeated Portland TrailBlazers team, all the way down to making a huge defensive play and hitting the eventual game-winner in the final minutes.
The Clippers and Paul carried that momentum into tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets, with Paul opening the game aggressively – to the tune of 11 points and 6 assists in the first quarter.
That great start created a 15-point lead the Clippers would never relinquish in a blowout win and gave Paul and his fellow starters plenty of time to relax and get some rest. Blake Griffin was his usual spectacular self, putting up 22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in only 32 minutes of action. Paul finished with 20 points and 10 assists in 29 minutes and Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups each put up double digit scoring as well.
DeAndre Jordan finished with 7 points and 8 rebounds in 28 minutes, but was a major factor in the deciding first quarter, where he pulled down almost all of his rebounds. The big scoring cushion gave the backups more than enough time to make an impression, with Mo Williams continuing his early season push for Sixth Man of the year with 7 points and 7 assists in 22 minutes and Randy Foye chipping in 16 points in only 19 minutes.
The Clippers are still a big work in progress, but the recent signing of backup big man Solomon Jones and extra practice time should be great for them, along with the debut of Reggie Evans. They’re now on a two-game winning streak and have an excellent chance to extend it to three with the Milwaukee Bucks coming into town on Saturday.
The win against the Rockets was their third sellout of the season (in 3 total home games) and the fans surely went home excited about the team and its future.
Will R. is a journalist/writer who covers sports, news and music for several websites. He’s a longtime Clippers fan and his “Diary of a Clippers Fan” is regularly published during the NBA season. His music work can be found on www.WestCoastRydaz.com
by Lang Whitaker | @langwhitaker
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