Clips’ Win Streak Fueled By Defense

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Los Angeles Clippers hadn’t won six straight games since March of 1992. That’s a full 20 years of mostly bad basketball.

Even in the 2005-06 season, when the Clippers went 47-35 and made their only trip to the playoffs in the last 14 seasons, their longest winning streak was five games.

This season’s Clippers won four in a row back in late January, but lost Chauncey Billups for the season a few games later, and went 12-14 in the first 26 games without their veteran leader.

Now, with last night’s easy win over the defending champs, the Clips have won six straight, and are again looking like a team that can win a playoff series or two.

ESPN’s Marc Stein was in Dallas last night

Credit the Clips, if nothing else, for an admirable response to adversity. With pressure mounting on Del Negro, L.A.’s fourth-quarter failure to overtake the injury-ravaged New Orleans Hornets in Paul’s first-ever game as a visitor to the Crescent City could have easily sent the Clips into a deep, dark spiral. Instead? The first game of a season-defining five straight home dates was the toughest, but they dredged up the requisite spirit and beat Memphis by 16, launching the resurrection.

The next four teams they toppled (Hornets, Suns, Blazers and Jazz) were hardly world-beaters, true, but the Clips were in no state to scoff at any W after the drubbings they absorbed in Indiana and Oklahoma City, followed by the debacle in the shadows of the French Quarter. Clips forward Caron Butler says now that a team meeting after the New Orleans loss is what prevented the dreaded spiral.

“We should not be trying to find our identity at this point in the season,” Butler said. “We should have that already. So we discussed it and we agreed that we’ve got to get everyone involved. Since then this team’s had a totally different disposition. Guys are making the extra pass, we’re sharing that ball and that’s what we’ve got goin’ right now. When we play defense and share the ball, we’re a scary team. With all these weapons, it’s tough to load up on Chris and Blake.”

The Clippers have been up and down all season, mostly because they’ve struggled defensively. Before the streak began, they ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency, allowing 104 points per 100 possessions.

Over the last six games though, the Clippers have allowed just 97 points per 100 possessions. And Friday’s 98-97, slow-paced win over the Blazers was really the only game in the streak that they won by just out-gunning their opponent.

Not that the Clippers have had trouble scoring during the streak. They’ve scored 110 points per 100 possessions over the six games, which is pretty potent. And last night in Dallas, they finally got some offense from the two spot, with Randy Foye draining eight 3-pointers and scoring a season-high 28 points.

But more important was that L.A. held the Mavs to just 33 points in the first half. If the Clippers are going to win in the postseason, they need to be able to have defensive stretches like that.

The biggest statistical key has been an increase in forcing turnovers. L.A. had forced just 15.2 turnovers per 100 possessions through their first 47 games, but have forced 17.7 over the last six, with 10 different guys on the roster picking up at least three steals during the streak. Chris Paul, of course, has led the way with 13 steals. But Eric Bledsoe has six in just 80 minutes during the streak.

The forced turnovers have produced an increase in transition opportunities, which is where the Clippers are at their best.

Six games is a small sample size, and three of the wins have come against bad offensive teams (Memphis, New Orleans and Dallas). But this is easily the best stretch of defense the Clippers have played all season. And it’s coming at the right time of year.

25 Comments

  1. Stan says:

    The Clippers just need to play SMART basketball. Clipppers have 2 great young players that will get better for years to come in Blake Griffen and D. J. They need to play to their strengths and not take bad shots. Jordan is one of the best defenders around the basket and if they look for Griffen and Jordan around the basket the Clippers can get alot of easy baskets. They are able to beat anyone in the league right now.

  2. Don says:

    Lob city all day baby

  3. Don says:

    chris paul allready made a decision. and i think he’s gonna stick with it
    go clips

  4. Per says:

    The Clippers are indeed very strong this season, so this shouldn’t be a big surprise, losing Billups was big, but when you look at the roster, there aren’t any blurring weaknesses, the center position is where the Clips stuggle the most, DJ can be a good defender. He is really key, because he has to be a prescience down low.

  5. lakermig says:

    i think had this been a normal season they would be no where close to where they are cause they base all theyre play on athleticism which you need more than just that to win.and other teams migth have caught on to their style or what to do to stop them not to mention older more experienced teams need rest so when they arent rested well and play a team like the clips they dont stand much of a chance ie.mavs.It also takes much more than sheer athleticism to win a play off series and definitely more than that to win the entire thing ie miami,although i think if they work some things out and or some players ie jordan and griffin grow more as players they stand a super chance

  6. Billy Joe says:

    The Clippers seem like they can make noise in the playoffs the way they’re playing, but the real test is to see if they can remain consistent. On talent alone, there’s no question they’re one of the top teams in the league, but they may not all be on the same page just yet. However, there roster can compete with any team in the league;
    pg) Chris Paul/ Mo Williams/ Eric Bledsoe
    sg) Randy Foye/ Nick Young
    sf) Caron Butler/ Bobby Simmons/ Ryan Gomes
    pf) Blake Griffin/ Kenyon Martin
    c) Deandre Jordan/ Reggie Evans
    They’re only weakness is the center position, but if DJ can avoid foul trouble, look out.

  7. kevnasty317 says:

    The Clippers are all hype on dunks know post up game with back to baseket know mid range jumper from big men on the team untill they get a big man that can play out the post they will lose in the playoffs griffin needs to spend a few off seasons with duncan or hakeem and jabber learn how to play in the post if he becomes consitent in the post they could be good, chris paul get out of there next year that is not a good franchise manegement horrible.

  8. mike says:

    chris paul will join lakers next year

  9. it didnt take a genius to realize that the clips had issues on defense peep my playoff preview from 2 months ago..1st playoff preview mindofmattman.com take a look

  10. Jahmel Edwars says:

    Whoa, I would not call Memphis a bad offensive team. I know they are not the best but they do score the ball with ease. With that being said, I am not 100% percent sold on the clippers team as of yet. I mean it is definitely good to see a team with so much talent on the roster make the necessary improvements to start winning games, but doubt it will carry over into the payoffs.
    I just believe they are catching teams at the right moment ? or maybe they will prove me wrong and maintain their current pace and win…. a series or two.

  11. joel says:

    Chris Paul has already said that he fully intends to stay in LA

    • Amitpal says:

      He never said which team. Lol but in just kidding, but he will stay with clippers long term but only if the owner doesn’t get to greedy and makes the right moves.

  12. Amitpal says:

    The real test comes tomorrow against the lakers, although the lakers have been struggling for the last couple days. I’m a huge clipper fan but I feel like they caught all the teams at the right time, so we don’t know if the clippers are for real or just a first round playoff team.

    • BelizeBoy says:

      I wouldn’t say that is a real test. They are 1-1 with them already and this isn’t about winning big games (they already beat OKC and Miami convincingly). This is more about them showing they can be consistent.

  13. charles says:

    Chris Paul is Chris Paul. Ultra competitive. Intense effort every play. and an exceptionally high IQ. So he’s not the difference maker here because he always plays at a high level. Adding Playoff saavy player like KMart was incredibly good move. So was signing Nick Young. Mo Williams is another playoff veteran that needs to get healthy if they’ll make some real noise in the playoffs, but for the moment, it forces Foye to play up to his potential a bit more…maybe the pressure of missing mo williams has been good for Foye and Bledsoe.

  14. CP3toStayinLA says:

    Chris Paul will be a Clipper for the long run. He bought a house in LA for several million, which means if he wanted to leave soon, he would have just rented a place. The Clippers are in a posiiton to do great in the post season and possibly win it all next season.

    GO CLIPS!!!

    • CanadianHoopsFan says:

      Yeah, he bought a house in L.A. because he was hoping one day the Lakers will take him. Now that they have a decent PG in Sessions and his reasonable salary, who needs CP3.

  15. heatlatinofan says:

    enjoy while you can clippers
    CP3 is coming to south beach next year

  16. BelizeBoy says:

    Memphis and Dallas are bad offensive teams? Anyhow I think it’s good the Clippers are showing improvement, but of course there will be a lot of critcs picking apart at whatever they do.