Rapid Reaction: Clippers 93, Hornets 77
December, 19, 2012
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers vividly remember the last time they lost to the New Orleans Hornets. It was all the way back on Nov. 26, and it was the last time they lost a game. The image of the Hornets' celebrating on the Staples Center floor wasn't lost on the Clippers as they stepped onto that same court Wednesday night.
"New Orleans beat us a couple weeks back and they really celebrated like they won a championship," Matt Barnes said before the game. "I think that's on our mind."
There wasn't much for the Hornets to celebrate this time, as the Clippers won handily 93-77 to tie the franchise record with 11 straight victories and improve to a franchise-best 19-6 to start the season.
Here are three takeaways:
Milestone for Paul
Chris Paul recorded his 5,000th assist, becoming the 54th player in history to hit that mark. At 27 years and 228 days old, Paul is the third-youngest NBA player to achieve the milestone, behind Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas. Paul didn't smile and hardly looked up to acknowledge the standing ovation he got from the crowd after reaching the milestone. He was more focused on quickly turning around and passing to Blake Griffin for a lob dunk to record assist No. 5,001. Paul finished the game with 10 points and 12 assists and once again didn't have to play in the fourth quarter, as the Clippers went up by as many as 24 points late.
The Clippers' defense is the biggest reason they are off to their best start ever and are in the midst of their longest winning streak. While the lob dunks will always get the highlights, the Clippers' D has enabled them to not only win games, but win decidedly. The Clippers' victory Wednesday was their sixth by 16 or more points during the 11-game winning streak. The Clippers' improved defense was never more evident than in the box score from their win over New Orleans and their loss to New Orleans last month. Back then, they allowed the Hornets to score 105 points and shoot better than 50 percent from the field and 60 percent from beyond the arc. On Wednesday, the Hornets scored 77 points, hitting just 38.7 percent from the field and 10.5 percent on 3-pointers.
A Tribe Called Bench
Once again, the Clippers' second unit rendered the starters spectators in the fourth quarter, helping the team take the lead and then build on it. Jamal Crawford was the catalyst, finishing with 17 points and 5 rebounds. The Clippers also got 11 points and 5 rebounds from Barnes. Ten players on the Clippers scored, with no one scoring more than 18 points, showing the depth and balance.