Great win, fun game to watch. Chris Paul's 3rd quarter was an amazing work of art, and the 1-2 finish of the pass off the backboard to DeAndre Jordan in flight, followed by the near-midcourt lob to DJ out of the double team was spectacular. More on CP3 in a second.
I didn't have the chance to settle into any of the threads the last few days, but there were a couple of points I had wanted to make, and things played out more or less as I had hoped. So I can get into them now, though at this point they seem slightly obvious, but that's the way it goes.
The first is about playing at home. Pretty simple. Denver and GSW1 were road games, extremely important to those teams in their gym. The road wins/home losses thing is no joke, especially when you're up against playoff contending teams. Just about everybody said and knew that the Denver game would be a top candidate to end the streak, and GSW would be even tougher. The Clips couldn't shoot and make plays in either game, but it's not a surprise and not the end of the world; they're still a very good team. And the wins against the Lakers and GSW2 prove the same theory. The home court advantage isn't quite the same against the Lakers, but the Clippers were certainly glad to be back in Staples, and they played like it, finding their energy and resolve.
It was more true than ever last night. GSW missed a few shots that they had made the last time out, while the Clippers made the ones they had missed. That's not the whole story, but it's a big part of it. The rebounding edge that Erik O mentions has a lot to do with the fact that Clipper shots were going in -- they were shooting over 60% for much of the game, until the 4th quarter -- while they had a lot more opportunities for defensive rebounds because of GSW misses.
I also subscribe to a hungrier team theory, which complements the home court advantage. Denver and GSW really needed those wins at home. After winning 17 straight, for the Clips it was not so much. And that's one reason why 17 straight is so impressive, regardless of the competition: the hunger level fluctuates quite a bit during an entire month. The Clips were hungry and needed wins in the last two games, and they went out and got them.
On top of that there's a Chris Paul factor, item #2. Kevin Arnovitz had a nice story about the contrast between the Clippers and the Lakers yesterday, with a little Paul vs. Kobe Bryant thrown in. The hero ball thing got a little out of hand in that game, but it won't be the norm. But CP was filthy last night, and his destruction of Stephen Curry was pretty scary. Hitting all of those 3s was no accident. CP was outplayed and embarrassed by Curry and GSW, and CP had out his dagger last night and just starting stabbing him, over and over again. You see this at times in great players, and CP and Kobe were tapping into it on Friday. Paul hated seeing so many of Curry's shots going in, along with the way that GSW was moving the ball around and getting great looks for everybody up in Oakland. And he formed his response on offense, as much as defense. Paul is an incredibly determined player. Now Curry knows that Paul will hit 5 3s, that his shot can show itself. The big lead and good hustle and defensive effort were part of the overall package, but the real statement was made by Paul. It was a direct response. And it wasn't pretty. It was ruthless, laser focused, intensely aggressive. Great rematch in two weeks, when the Clips won't be at home.
Still hard to believe at times that CP is a Clipper, and it's just amazing to see the complete change in the culture, and what is happening to the franchise under his watch. The 17 game skein and perfect December might be over, but the Paul and the Clips are very much aware of the 12 game winning streak at home. They don't care that it's a franchise record. They just know that they really don't want to lose at home.