If the past was prologue for the Los Angeles Clippers the Mayans would have been right and the world would have ended on Dec. 21, depriving the Clippers and their fans the satisfaction of setting the record for the longest winning streak in franchise history.
Fortunately, the Mayans’ doomsday prediction didn’t come to fruition, but the day was no less historic as the Clippers proved that its futile past is nothing but a distant memory tonight after it notched its franchise record 12th consecutive victory, a 97-85 win over the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center.
The Clippers (20-6) matched the Oklahoma City Thunder for the longest winning streak in the NBA this year, which could be extended to a baker’s dozen on Sunday on the road against the Phoenix Suns. The Clips are just one game behind the Thunder for the best record in the league.
With tonight’s victory, the team broke a 38-year-old franchise record. The previous mark was set in 1974-75 by the then Buffalo Braves who were coached by Dr. Jack Ramsay and led on the floor by Bob McAdoo, Garfield Heard, Randy Smith, Jim McMillian, Jack Marin and Bob Weiss.
For some perspective, only one Clippers player was even alive when the previous record was set: Grant Hill.
Chris Paul led the way for the Clippers with 24 points, 13 assists and five steals, his fourth double-double in the last five games. Blake Griffin notched 21 points and 13 boards, his 11th double-double and seventh game this season with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Paul was dropping dimes all over the place like a clumsy bank teller, including alley-oops to Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Eric Bledsoe. As a team the Clippers tallied 24 assists to go along with 13 steals and 13 blocks.
Despite leading by 17 at one point the victory was hard fought. The Clippers were way too sloppy on offense, registering 20 turnovers, which resulted in way too many broken plays especially on fast breaks.
“I think the guys feed off [the dunks] a lot so I don’t want to take that away from them especially if we’re getting in the passing lanes and getting steals and getting in the open court and playing the pace we want,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said after the win. “We use that to our advantage, but we have to do a better job of recognizing when it’s time to make the easy play and when it’s time to do something different.”
Sacramento kept the game tight late into the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to seven with less than seven minutes left in the game, before the Clippers pulled away. The Kings were led by Jimmer Fredette’s 16 points off the bench, and went without the services of problem child DeMarcus Cousins after the center was told to stay behind in the locker room during halftime.
Without a doubt the Clippers need to take better care of the ball, a flaw the young and inexperienced Kings failed to fully exploit. For only the sixth time all season the Clippers lost the turnover battle.
But if there was one play that exemplified the Clippers’ hustle, it came from Bledsoe in the second quarter. After his errant pass was picked off by Fredette, Bledsoe chased down the play and blocked Thomas Robinson’s dunk attempt from behind, swatting the ball so hard off the backboard, Jamal Crawford retrieved it at midcourt. It was positively LeBron-esque.
When the Clippers have rough stretches like they did tonight it has to be up to CP3 and Griffin to steady the ship, make good decisions and play like the All-Stars they are. When the dynamic duo plays like that the Clippers rarely lose.
Rejoice Clippers fans! The world didn’t end on Dec. 21 and the Clippers made history of their own. Like Frank the Tank said in Old School, “We’re going streaking!”
Topics: Blake Griffin, Bob McAdoo, Buffalo Braves, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins, Dr. Jack Ramsey, Eric Bledsoe, Franchise Record, Jimmer Fredette, Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Staples Center, Vinny Del Negro, Winning Streak