Los Angeles Clippers: Knicks

Rapid Reaction: Clippers 102, Knicks 88

February, 10, 2013

NEW YORK -- This was a position the Los Angeles Clippers had been in several times before while Chris Paul was in a suit and on the bench.

They would be in a one- or two-possession game late and somehow, some way, find a way to lose it at the end. These were games where they held the lead in the fourth quarter and slowly saw it slip away as Paul could do nothing but try to coach from the bench. With Paul back on the floor, however, the Clippers found a way to win and beat the New York Knicks, 102-88.

It was easily the Clippers' most impressive victory on what has been an otherwise forgettable 3-4 Grammy road trip. Perhaps the best thing that has come out of the trip besides Sunday's win is the fact that Paul, Chauncey Billups and the rest of the injured Clippers are finally back on the floor again as the team wraps up their road trip Monday night in Philadelphia.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

CP3 is back

Sure, Paul’s first game back from his bruised right kneecap was Friday night against the Miami Heat, but after scoring only 3 points on 1-of-5 shooting with three turnovers in 20 minutes, you can basically call that a warmup for his game on Sunday. Paul looked like his old self again as he had 25 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds and got the Clippers off to a solid start as he had 9 points on 3-of-4 shooting, including hitting 2 3-pointers, in the first quarter. Paul was also the difference late in the game as he scored seven points in the fourth quarter and made one key shot after another to help seal the win for the Clippers.

A Tribe Called Bench

It was only fitting that a trip to New York would also bring the return of “A Tribe Called Bench.” After taking a hiatus with so many bench players thrust into starting roles, the band was finally back together in Madison Square Garden. More importantly, the second unit backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford was finally back together again and causing nightmares for opposing benches. Crawford finished with 27 points on 12-of-22 shooting while Bledsoe had 13 points, 3 assists and 4 rebounds. As good as Bledsoe was in relief of Paul for a dozen games, Sunday was a perfect example of why he is much better in his role of spark plug off the bench who plays about 18-20 minutes per game.

Still not healthy

The big storyline heading into Friday’s game against the Miami Heat was that the Clippers were finally fully healthy for this first time this season. The problem, is Grant Hill didn’t play on Friday with knee issues (he played 15 minutes on Sunday) and against the Knicks, Caron Butler was sidelined for the second half and only played 12 minutes with a sore lower back. Butler will likely be a game-time decision Monday at Philadelphia, but the Clippers’ “healthy” run didn’t last very long. Not that they looked particularly great on Friday in Miami when they were all available to play.

What to watch: Clippers-Knicks

April, 25, 2012

Clippers (40-25) vs. New York Knicks (34-30) at Madison Square Garden, 5 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Curtain call: With any hope of winning the Pacific Division erased with their loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, the Clippers will now attempt to lock up the No. 4 seed in the West and home court in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Knicks on Wednesday. If the Clippers lose, they must hope the Orlando Magic beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday; otherwise they will drop to the No. 5 seed and go on the road to play Memphis in the first round. If the Clippers beat the Knicks they would also finish the season with a 17-16 record on the road, which would be the first time they’ve finished with a .500 or better road record since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.

2. Dynamic duo: Against Atlanta, Blake Griffin had 36 points and eight rebounds and Chris Paul added 34 points and five rebounds. It was only the third time in Clippers franchise history that two players each recorded at least 34 points and five rebounds in the same game. Dominique Wilkins and Ron Harper did it on March 8, 1994 and Michael Brooks and Tom Chambers did it while the team was located in San Diego on April 15, 1982. This season, with Griffin averaging over 20 points and Paul averaging over eight assists per game, the duo is the first set of Clippers teammates with those numbers in the same season since 1993-94. The Clippers have only had six other teammates average at least 20 points and 8 assists per game since 1984-85.

3. Long ball: Knicks forward and former Clipper Steve Novak has scored 83.3 percent of his total points from three point field-goals this season (378 of 454). That is on pace to become the highest such percentage for any player with 300-or-more points in a single season since the NBA instituted the three-point shot in 1979. Entering the 2011-12 season, the highest percentage of total points scored from three pointers in a single season was 79.0 by the Suns’ Dan Majerle in 2001-02 (237 of 300). In other long ball news, Clippers guard Randy Foye had hit at least one three-pointer in 21 straight games before going scoreless against the Hawks on Tuesday.

4. Lob City: The Clippers truly have lived up to the nickname this season. Blake Griffin leads the NBA with 190 dunks and DeAndre Jordan is in the third place with 139 dunks, just three dunks shy of second place. Chris Paul has recorded an assist on 81 of Griffin’s dunks this season. That is by far the highest number of assists on a particular teammate’s dunks in this season. The next highest would be 44 by John Wall on JaVale McGee dunks and Paul on DeAndre Jordan dunks. So the Clippers could finish the season with the top two dunkers in the league and with Paul, not surprisingly, feeding them the ball on most of those dunks.

5. L.A. 500: The Clippers are now 15 games over .500 (40-25). It's only the third time that the Clippers have been more than five games over .500 this many games into a season since moving to L.A. They finished the season eight games over .500 in 1991-92 and 12 games over .500 in 2005-06. Those are the only two seasons in which the Clippers finished over .500 since 1984. This season, the Clippers were 11-4 in January, 8-6 in February, 11-9 in March and currently own a 9-4 record in April. This marks the first time in 33 years that the Clippers have posted a winning record in four consecutive calendar months in a single season. The last time the Clippers did that was in December, January, February and March during the 1978-79 season when the Clippers were in San Diego.

J.R. Smith spurns the Clippers

February, 17, 2012
The Los Angeles Clippers players who had played with J.R. Smith were confident that the free agent guard would eventually sign with the Clippers.

In the end, those who didn’t know Smith as well but predicted he would sign with the team that offered him the most money proved to be right.

Smith signed with the New York Knicks Friday for a pro-rated share of their $2.5 million mini-midlevel exception and a player option for a second year. The Clippers were only able to offer Smith the veteran's minimum for the rest of this season.

Smith, who returned to the U.S. Thursday after playing in China, had spent the past two weeks hinting that he could sign with the Lakers, Clippers or Knicks on Twitter. He even tweeted Thursday night that he was watching the Clippers game at the airport and retweeted several tweets about the Clippers.

Chris Paul and Kenyon Martin said Wednesday night that they were confident Smith would sign with the Clippers and help replace Chauncey Billups, who was lost for the season last week with a ruptured Achilles tendon. Smith played with Martin and Billups in Denver and played with Paul in New Orleans. All three, along with Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro and general manager Neil Olshey, had been recruiting Smith to sign with the Clippers.

“I talk to J.R. all the time, whether he comes here or not,” Paul said Wednesday. “J.R. stays with me during the summer, he was at my wedding. He’s one of my really good friends and he knows we’d love him to be here.”

With Smith now in New York, the Clippers will turn their attention to possibly signing another shooting guard. Yahoo! Sports reported the team would hold workouts Friday for free agent guards Bobby Simmons and Jermaine Taylor. Simmons, who averaged a career-high 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds with the Clippers during the 2004-2005 season, has been averaging 12.9 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Reno Big Horns of the NBA Development League this season.