LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers had been in this position the day before.
Up by 20 points to a team they were better than in an afternoon game at home. On Saturday, they let the Sacramento Kings back into the game and trailed by five points in the fourth quarter before escaping with a one-point win. On Sunday, they built on their advantage against the Chicago Bulls and led by as many as 42 points in the fourth quarter before coming away with an easy 121-82 win.
The Bulls were playing their first game without Derrick Rose, who flew back to Chicago to repair a medial meniscus tear, and simply could not match the Clippers at the end of the game.
“You don’t just lose a Derrick Rose or Chris Paul and think you’re better,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “A lot of guys feel like it’s their time now, but they still lost Derrick Rose.”
How it happened: The Clippers were in control for much of the game, going into halftime up 65-52 and shooting 62.5 percent from the field. They opened the game up in the third quarter, going up by 24 points and never looking back. Each one of the Clippers' starters and two players off the bench scored in the third quarter as they let the reserves finish the game in the final period.
What it means: Playing four games in five nights, including back-to-back games on the road against potential playoff teams and back-to-back afternoon games at home, was always going to be tough. But the Clippers made it through this stretch with a 3-1 record, with their lone loss being to Oklahoma City on the second night of a road back-to-back. The Clippers will gladly take that.
Hits: In the offseason, the Clippers added Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick to add outside scoring punches, and both came through big Sunday. Dudley had 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. Redick had 19 points and hit 8 of his 11 shots.
Blake Griffin (15 points and 12 rebounds) and Paul (16 points and 17 assists) weren’t too bad themselves, recording double-doubles.
Misses: This is one of those games where you look at the stat sheet and wonder whether DeAndre Jordan even played. He had two points and seven rebounds with his only shot attempt coming at the end of the third quarter.
Stat of the game: Yes, the Bulls were playing without Rose, but the Clippers had their best defensive performance of the season, holding the Bulls to just 82 points, a season low for an opponent against the Clippers.
Up next: The Clippers will have a couple of days off before they play the New York Knicks at home Wednesday. It will be the Clippers’ first game of the season against the Knicks, who are struggling this season at 3-9 and in the bottom half of the league in most statistical categories.