Clippers ground Pelicans, 108-76

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers dominated from beginning to end and held New Orleans to just 76 points, a season-low for a Clippers opponent. on the way to a convincing victory.

Before the tip of the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the New Orleans Pelicans, the Clippers failed to circle Danny Granger's name on the active roster they submitted to the official scorekeeper, and Granger was therefore not allowed to play in his first game as a Clippers despite being ready. It was about the last mistake the Clippers made on the evening.  (For what it's worth, Doc Rivers took responsibility for the error.)

Five days ago when these two teams played, the Clippers won handily, but it required an offensive barrage, and they still gave up 110 points. In this game the Clippers shut down everything New Orleans wanted to do from the opening tip. Midway through the first quarter, the Pelicans had as many fouls as point (six). For the game the Clippers held New Orleans to 33% shooting, and while the inclination is to say that the Pelicans have been struggling, this is not a terrible team, and they're a pretty good offensive team. The Clippers just really stepped up their defense in this one.

In the post game press conference, Rivers could not say enough good things about the defense, especially regarding DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes. After allowing more than 100 points in five consecutive games, the Clippers have now held consecutive opponents under 100, and 76 is the lowest point total for a Clipper opponent this season. Jordan had four blocked shots and countless other successful challenges in the paint. That starting group was indeed impressive together.

Chris Paul had his best game since returning from injury, and one of his best games of the season. He was in complete control on both ends of the court, as evidenced by his +30 plus/minus for the game. He scored 21 points on 7-11 shooting, handed out eight assists, had two steals and countless deflections -- all against two turnovers. The Clippers struggled more on defense during Paul's absence than they did on offense, which tells you something -- the guy is a major disruptor on the defensive end in addition to being the best orchestrator in the game on offense.

Part of the reason the Pelicans struggled so much is because their star Anthony Davis was severely limited by foul trouble. Through three quarters, he had two points and zero rebounds in just 10 minutes of play -- because he had picked up four fouls. He fouled Griffin twice with the first three minutes and went to the bench -- at which point Griffin hung three fouls on his replacement, Jeff Withey. The game was over before it ever started for Davis, who was coming off a game in which he had scored 32 points, tying his career high. He finished this one with eight points on 1-6 shooting.

Really, you can pick almost any Clipper from the boxscore and they played well, but after the usual suspects, two stand out, and ironically, they are two who figure to be fairly marginal in the rotation when everyone is healthy and Granger is active. Hedo Turkoglu's line isn't spectacular by any means -- two points, three rebounds, two assists, two blocks in 15 minutes -- but he played a quality game tonight. His defense -- which is not supposed to be his strong suit -- was terrific. He's clever and he's got great hands -- he got his hands on a lot of balls tonight. Meanwhile, Reggie Bullock scored a career high 11 points in 10 minutes, most of them in garbage time. His stroke is so clean and so compact -- he just looks like a three point shooter to me. He made a pair of threes tonight in four attempts, and he is clearly not afraid to shoot the three ball. Bullock's second three of the night stretched the Clippers lead to 32 points, but it also decided the game once and for all, in a couple of ways. It gave the Clippers 100 points, invoking Lawler's Law, first to 100 wins. Plus, it was the Clippers' ninth three pointer of the night, and they're undefeated (now 26-0) when making nine threes. If that shot had been a two, and the score had been 99-68 instead of 100-68 while the team sat on eight three pointers, the outcome would still have been in doubt.

The Clippers have a big game in Phoenix on Tuesday. It is the only game they play on the road against a team with a winning record during a stretch of 14 games -- if they can win in Phoenix, they'll really be on a roll. And if they play defense like they did tonight, there's no reason to think they can't win.

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