helped pace the Clippers
to their ninth straight win. (Juan Ocampo/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Clippers won their ninth straight game Wednesday, holding off the Golden State Warriors for a 111-98 victory to split the four-game season series.
• The Clippers are the kings of the mountain ... for now. The list of reasons why the Clippers are the best team in the NBA right now is as long as the hitch in Jermaine O'Neal's shot: Los Angeles leads the NBA in net rating and boasts a top-10 offense and defense, it's won an NBA-best nine straight games and was No. 1 in our most recent Power Rankings, Blake Griffin (30 points against the Warriors) is realizing his potential on a nightly basis and has become frustratingly good and the Clippers own one of the most talented rosters in the league ... which just got even deeper.
It doesn't hurt that Los Angeles' climb coincides with Miami, Indiana and Oklahoma City falling on tough times, but the Clippers certainly look as legitimate as any contender in the league. Their win over the rival Warriors on Wednesday served as just the latest impressive notch in their belt. During its nine-game winning streak, L.A. has also downed Oklahoma City, Houston and Phoenix while posting some astronomical numbers.
Over that stretch, the Clippers have led the league in both points per 100 possessions (115.1) and points allowed per 100 possessions (98.5), simultaneously giving them the NBA's best offense and defense for three weeks running.
With bad blood at an abundance between the Warriors and Clippers, Wednesday's clash was tighly fought until L.A. pulled away in the closing minutes. Neither team led by more than six points until midway through the third quarter. Griffin's huge night (30 points, 15 rebounds) highlighted his team's dominance in the paint, where the Clippers outrebounded the Warriors 49-36 and pretty much scored at will against Golden State's bigs.
With Chris Paul (16 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds) outdueling Sephen Curry (13 points, 11 assists) and the Clips' bench also outperforming its counterpart, L.A. pulled out the win to split the season series.
The NBA is littered with contenders, but there's no denying that the Clippers are the flavor of the moment and there's no indication that they'll fall out of style anytime soon. After pulling out a win over the Warriors, the Clippers now get to enjoy six straight games against sub-.500 opponents, starting with the Jazz in Utah on Friday.
• Danny Granger answers the bench signal. With Los Angeles in need of a lift off the bench, Danny Granger delivered. L.A.'s offense lagged early, particularly with Paul missing eight of his first nine shots, so the Clippers turned to their newest acquisition and were handsomely rewarded with a season-high 18 points in 24 minutes. One night after Andrew Bynum stated his early case for biggest buyout addition with his Pacers debut, Granger turned in his best effort yet as a Clipper, hitting 7-of-11 shots and adding six rebounds.
When Granger arrived in Los Angeles last month, Doc Rivers said the former All-Star would "ideally" be the team's starting small forward. That raised more than a few eyebrows after Granger struggled in a bench role with Indy this year -- shooting a career-low 35.9 percent -- and looked like a shadow of his former self. But Granger displayed accuracy with his shot and spring in his step Wednesday, proving Rivers' statement might be more realistic than originally believed.
When deciding what team to join after being bought out by the 76ers, Granger searched for not only a contender but one that he could make an impact with. It appears the Clippers offer him the best of both worlds. We'll see if Wednesday's output is an indication of what he can give them.
• Blake Griffin dunking never gets old. Ever. Not even a little bit.
While the Clippers star is expanding his offensive repertoire these days, he's still pretttty good at that dunking thing:
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