If their 129-127 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, in which they came back from 17 points down in the fourth quarter…
Or their 36-point beat down of their reeling down-the-hall rivals on January 10 (which solidifies my proclamation made at the beginning of the season that Los Angeles is a Clipper town now)…
Doesn’t convince basketball fans in L.A. that these Clippers – unlike the Lakers – are truly a solid team that has the potential to do great things when the NBA playoffs commence in April, nothing will.
As an illustration of how good Doc Rivers’ team is, their record since losing the best point guard in the league, Chris Paul, to a separated shoulder?
Five wins and one loss.
Which includes a current four-game winning streak with a 24-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs – who at 31-8 have the NBA’s second best record – being the only blemish.
Of course having shooting guard J.J. Redick, who recently returned from a bad hand and wrist injury and scored 33 points, including seven three pointers, against the Mavericks, doesn’t hurt at all.
Neither does having a guy that’s considered the Clippers’ other superstar, Blake Griffin, who got 23 points on Wednesday night and has been praised for improving his overall game, namely his jump shot and his maturity.
Or the fact that CP3′s replacement, former UCLA standout Darren Collison, has done well in Paul’s absence, contributing to the big Clipper comeback with 13 points and ten assists.
Since replacing the all-star in the starting lineup, Collison has averaged 16.6 points and 7.2 assists per game while shooting 62% from the floor and 86% from the free throw line.
Not too bad for a backup, eh?
At 27-13, Clipper fans should rightfully be optimistic if not excited about their team handling the adversity of not having the NBA’s best point guard so admirably to date.
What should get them even more pumped is the thought of how much better the Clippers will be when Paul does return around mid-February.
However, before Clipper Nation gets too ecstatic, there’s the little matter of an upcoming seven-game “Grammy” road trip, which happens every year to the Clippers as well as the Lakers due to the Grammy Awards being held at Staples Center.
On the surface, these away games against teams like the New York Knicks (January 17), the Detroit Pistons (January 20) and the Chicago Bulls (January 24) look fairly winnable, but one contest looms as a true showdown:
The Indiana Pacers, who at 30-7 have the NBA’s best record, will serve as the second of a back-to-back series as the Clips visit Indianapolis right after their date at Madison Square Garden with Spike Lee’s favorite team.
The saying “This is a measuring stick as far as where we are” will definitely apply here.
If these Clippers can go 5-2 or better on this roadie, then things will obviously look that much better for the team going forward as the season passes the halfway point.
One thing is for sure: this will be their toughest test.