Clippers have a great night doing absolutely nothing

USA TODAY Sports

The Thunder and Spurs both lost to cellar-dwelling teams Monday night, catapulting the Clippers to the top of the league standings.

Looking at the NBA schedule this week, I thought it was unfortunate for the Clippers that they were playing so few games. Locked in a neck-and-neck race for league leadership with the Thunder and the Spurs, it seemed inevitable they'd have to sit idly by while their rivals racked up easy wins against the likes of the Raptors and the Wizards and the Hornets. Through no fault of their own, the Clippers would surely drop off the pace at least a bit.

Instead, the Thunder and the Spurs inexplicably dropped games to the last place team in the Eastern Conference and the last place team in the Western Conference respectively.

The Wizards got two different crucial four point plays (one by Bradley Beal at the end of the third quarter and another by Martell Webster inside of two minutes remaining) to take a five point lead late. They still needed a leaning, double clutch, one-handed push shot from Beal with 0.3 second left to ensure the victory though.

Meanwhile, former Clipper Eric Gordon did his old team a huge favor taking over against the Spurs in the Hornets' 95-88 win. Gordon scored 24, including six straight during a key fourth quarter run, to help secure the upset.

With those two unexpected upsets, all of those metrics we've been monitoring should all tilt toward the Clippers, at least for the moment. When tonight's results are included, the Clippers will have the best winning percentage, the best average margin of victory, the best RPI, the best Simple Rating System, and the best Hollinger rating in the league. (Actually, I can't guarantee the Hollinger thing since his formula is complex and proprietary, but surely....)

(I'll include a table in the morning when the data is available. [Note by Steve Perrin, 01/08/13 10:34 AM PST ] And here is it):

W

L

Pct

SOS

MOV

SRS

RPI

Hollinger

Clippers

27

8

.771

.517

8.83

9.05

.581

108.870

Thunder

25

8

.765

.497

8.68

8.28

.564

107.433

Spurs

27

10

.730

.517

8.24

8.60

.570

109.925

See the original post for descriptions of SOS, MOV, SRS, RPI and Hollinger.

As it happens, the Spurs remain ahead on the Hollinger power ranking, but I'm hard-pressed to find a reason why that should be. It's noteworthy that the Thunder dropped 1.2 points on the Hollinger scale with a 2 point road loss to a 4-28 team while the Spurs dropped just 0.7 points with a 7 point road loss to an 8-25 team. I'd hate to have to try to re-engineer Hollinger's formula, because I don't really get it. I will say this -- it clearly takes home court advantage more seriously than any other metric out there, given the placement of both the Spurs and Nuggets. My feeling is that home court advantage is usually overlooked as a factor, so that fact that he's considering more than others is probably a good thing. I will point out that the Clippers have a better road winning percentage than the Spurs, and more or less the same home winning percentage, so I think there's evidence to suggest that the Clippers are better than the Spurs, even taking into consideration the fact that they played a home-friendlier schedule.

As if all that weren't nice enough, the Clippers now also have the best record against winning teams, going from 12-6 against teams .500 or better to 16-6. How did they make such a significant leap in a single night when they didn't even play a game, you ask? When Utah beat Dallas they evened their record, and Boston did the same in their win over New York. Since the Clippers are 3-0 against the Jazz and also beat the Celtics once, that's four additional wins against teams .500 or better. No team in the league has more such victories and no team in the league has a better winning percentage against winning teams. (Here's where the Lakers could help us out by getting back to .500 also -- just kidding.)

We probably can't survive as a fan base, obsessing over these numbers on a daily basis for another hundred days until the end of the regular season. But this is all so new -- it's hard to know exactly how to behave when you're the best team in basketball. For now we can obsess.

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