The Los Angeles Clippers didn’t let the Blake Griffin injury get in the way of building a nice win streak. Turns out that even without DeAndre Jordan, there’s no problem. They beat the Miami Heat 104-90, rolling to their 10th consecutive victory.
Jordan tried making it so he could keep his streak of consecutive games alive (360), but had to pull out. In his place, Cole Aldrich surprised with 19 points, with Chris Paul, Paul Pierce and Jamal Crawford each scoring 15 points. The Clippers were behind by 7 points at halftime, but an excellent and aggressive third quarter got them through another team playing without two lineup players.
Pierce picking up his game over the last two or three weeks has been, possibly, the biggest change for the Clippers. Through November and most of December he looked like a player who missed the moment of retiring with dignity. But at his age, sometimes it takes a couple of months of playing yourself into shape. He doesn’t always score like this (3-of-7 from beyond the arc), but he’s in a position and time where it’s not a problem for him to step up if the Clippers need him to, while previously he was unable to do it physically.
Doc Rivers had a lot to say after the game. He never hides from talking after wins, when he doesn’t have to blame any of his players. It’s easy to start feeling sorry for yourselves when you don’t have Blake and D.J., but nobody mentioned it. They just kept playing. Paul Pierce was great at halftime. He said: We’re going to win this game, guys. I’m telling you, we’re going to win this game. On Deandre Jordan not playing: It was weird not having DeAndre out there. I can tell you he was doing everything he could to try to play this game. I thought that even the thought of it was ludicrous — but not him. He texted back and forth: `I’m going to play. I’m going to make it. I’ll be there.’ And then he finally, the last text was, `I can’t make it. On Cole Aldrich filling in: Cole knows who he is. He has this body, and he uses it. He doesn’t try to beat you athletically. He just gets his body in the right positions and he rolls to the right spot. We said before the game there won’t be a lot of alley-oop lobs tonight for Cole, but there will be a lot of land-shark rolls. He got his body into position and he made shots. He was terrific.
When Griffin returns, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Clippers adjust. They’ve been playing smarter basketball, without so many holdups, while he’s been gone. If he keeps slowing down play and hesitating on his release of the ball, than this win streak isn’t going to last for very long. The Clippers playing fast basketball feeds to their strengths. With that in mind, they might still have a shot of having a say in the Western Conference run to somehow stop the Golden State Warriors.