Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes

As the season winds down and the Los Angeles Clippers are trying to somehow improve their standing in the Western conference, it’s evident that a shift has been made in what matters and needs to happen in order for them to win – while most of the season it was about the bench unit being the difference, later on and entering the playoffs, it’s all about Chris Paul and Blake Griffin playing their best basketball all game long.

Remember during the first half of the season, when Paul kept talking that if Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe play big minutes it means they’re doing everything right? The Clippers are finding it harder and harder to win lately, so it just means Paul and Griffin play like the All-Star they are, instead of taking rests in the fourth quarter like they did during the first half of 2012-2013.

Griffin finished with 20 points, leading the team, but Chris Paul, as always, was the main figure in a 96-93 win over the New Orleans Hornets. Paul finished with 17 points and 14 assists, but eight of those points came in the final minute while making his usual crunch-time defensive stop in order to help erase a 10-point deficit the Clippers were facing when entering the final minutes of the game.

It was big for us because it also showed us that we’re capable of buckling down and getting a win in a tough environment.

Tough environment? The Hornets? A team playing without Anthony Davis and Greivis Vasquez? The Clippers shot only 44.9% from the field, as Jamal Crawford (15 points) combined with Chris Paul to an awful 9-28, while Matt Barnes had the kind of game the Clippers need to see more of from him, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Their defense wasn’t working for most of the game, but in basketball, many times, it’s about the amount of plays you pull off in the final minutes. The Clippers had enough of them, erasing the fact that they struggled coping with the Hornets’ speed and couldn’t cause the amount of turnovers they usually need to force on a team in order to win.

Right now, they’re facing an uphill battle in an attempt to get home court advantage for the first round in the playoffs. Chances are, it’s going to take more than Paul and Griffin playing their best brand of basketball in order to get it, and get through to another conference semifinal.

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