The New Orleans Pelicans are no match in their current condition for the streaking Los Angeles Clippers, giving Blake Griffin and Chris Paul ample opportunities to show off their entertaining skills without harming the effectiveness of the team.
Be it Griffin showing off his skills as a point guard with some fancy dribbling and passing or Paul looking less than serious for long minutes of the contest, it doesn’t matter. The Clippers grabbed a big lead early on, allowing only 36 points in the first half, resulting in a dominant 108-76 win.
The Clippers played with a two-point guard setup that had Darren Collison playing next to Paul in the backcourt, as Jamal Crawford missed the game with an injury. Danny Granger still wasn’t eligible to play, but even with only Reggie Bullock and Willie Green to back them up, the Clippers looked in control and cruising all through the game against a bad looking Pelicans team.
New Orleans are actually starting Tyreke Evans now because of all their injuries. The former rookie of the year had a good game with 22 points, but aside with Austin Rivers, possibly wanting to show off a little bit in front of his father, there was no one putting an even remotely decent performance for the visitors.
Paul led the way with 21 points and 8 assists, finding it quite easy to get into the lane and make his decisions from there. He was 7-of-11 from the field and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line. Blake Griffin followed with 20 points while Matt Barnes had a very effective 24 minutes in the lineup, scoring 14 points to go with his six rebounds and four assists.
In terms of points per minute, there was no one doing quite like Bullock, scoring 11 points in 10 minutes. He is averaging only 8.3 minutes when he actually gets the chance to play, but with the injuries piling up for the Clippers, who knows if he doesn’t have a more than bit-part to play for the team in coming months.
The Pelicans aren’t actually an indication of anything, but the Clippers are playing well regardless. They’ve won four in a row, including against the Thunder and the Rockets, finding themselves in a position to challenge for the top spot in the West.
They’re also doing it while having a lot of fun and looking good on the court: They’re second in the league in scoring and third in assists, even though it seems that each game Rivers has to worry about another backcourt or perimeter player missing from his roster.
This is now for the Clippers, who have a good mixture of young, prime, and aging players to make a run for the title in the West. The Spurs seem a bit weaker than last season and the Thunder might have peaked a bit early. It’s quite an open race in the West once again, and if Doc Rivers can get this team to be a lot more consistent on defense against the bigger names in the league, it’d be foolish not to consider the Clippers as contenders for the NBA title.