Saturday night’s thorough domination of the Chicago Bulls 101-80 completes a remarkable run of victories over seven quality-plus teams. Led by Blake Griffin’s 26 points, including a string of 12-straight in the 4th quarter, the Clippers showcased everything right about who they are and where they’re headed. Jamal Crawford again scored 20-plus off the bench, the defense smothered Chicago into 33.7 percent from the field (and leading to a horrible night for Joakim Noah, who shot 1 for 8), and there was even a Lamar Odom sighting when he hit a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that brought the crowd (and Clipper bench) to its feet. In his post game interview, Ralph Lawler was hard pressed to name another squad over the last 30 years which compared to the present (Sam Cassel’s 2006 playoff team that came within a game of the Western Conference Finals was the closest he could compare). As Lawler pointed out, rebounding is still in need of improvement, the Clippers being outrebounded 45-41 with 21 of those on the offensive glass, and the team still has yet to prove themselves on the road.
On the latter point, the Clippers now have their opportunity to do just that.
With games against two of the Western Conference’s two top teams in San Antonio and Oklahoma City starting Monday night, followed by stops in Brooklyn and Atlanta, this difficult stretch will be a strong indicator of exactly where the Clippers stand when it comes to the NBA’s elite. If they can somehow manage at least a split or better, they’ll certainly make the case for their upper tier status. Every team is at least .500 or better and very tough at home.
“We want to win all of them,” a confident Jamal Crawford said, “That’s out goal, is to win every game on this trip. We’ll deal with the rest after that.”