It’s more than the franchise record of wins, which now sits at 13. It’s the ease in which the Los Angeles Clippers can dismantle teams during certain stretches, thanks to the defensive intensity of Chris Paul and the improving finishing abilities of Blake Griffin.
But like all great teams, it starts with defense. Not saying that the Clippers are a great team, but it’s beginning to look more and more like it. The Phoenix Suns were simply dismantled during the second and third quarter, eventually ending up with 14 turnovers, nearly all of them leading to easy points for the Clippers.
Chris Paul was a one-man wrecking crew on defense. He took us completely out of our offense. Our turnovers and bad offense led to points. They’re a team you really can’t afford to do that to.
Paul said that he acknowledges the fact that he leads by example, especially on defense. A team that wasn’t exactly known for it’s defensive consistency and intensity last season is becoming much more successful in creating runs by using probably the best ball hawking point guard in the NBA to galvanize the guys behind him. When games turn into a track meet and it’s time for the Clippers to put on a show, it’s hard seeing anyone keeping up with them.
The Clippers are fourth in the NBA by allowing only 91.6 points per game, but their defense is even more impressive when you look at their ability to force turnovers and keep the game at a pace they like, averaging 17.5 forced turnovers per game. With that kind of defense and execution level on fast breaks, whether it’s Chris Paul or Jamal Crawford leading the charge, they can afford to get sloppy with the ball as well. Their playing as well and probably better than anyone in the NBA right now, next to the Thunder and maybe the Miami Heat. They’ve won 13 straight, and the last four wins have come with a winning margin of 20 or more.
With this kind of atmosphere (a great one, better than it’s ever been on this team), Blake Griffin keeps improving. In these kind of games it’s hard to see, because he has so many opportunities to simply dunk the ball and do what he does best, which is fill up highlight reels on youtube, but it’s impossible to ignore his overall improvement in some of the little things.
He takes better shots and even finds way of creating them for himself from mid-range, although it’s very far from being an art he’s mastered. His defense is much better just for the fact that he’s gotten less lazy. The numbers (23 points, 11 rebounds) were always there. But seeing his basketball IQ and awareness on both ends of the floor continue to grow makes anyone involved with this organization very happy.
The Clippers matched a franchise record by holding their eighth straight opponent below 43 percent shooting, keeping the Suns at 36.3% while shooting 53.5% from the field themselves, 52.4% from beyond the arc. It took them a while to realize it, but all their offensive talent, helped by Jamal Crawford off the bench (22 points) actually gets to be utilized better when they’re doing their job defensively.