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Winning Streaks: Journeying Through Time

In an effort to further evaluate the Clippers' current 16-game winning streak, let's look at some of the other recent long winning streaks in the NBA in faux-flashback fashion.

Ezra Shaw

November 18th, 2006.

EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah.

It's 4:00 Pacific Standard Time, and an exciting game is starting between the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz. The Suns are struggling with a disappointing 3-5 record on the season, while the Jazz have surged to an early 8-1 start.

Near the end of this game, however, it looks like the Suns are about to pull of the upset in Utah. They are up three with 13 seconds left when Leandro Barbosa fouls Mehmet Okur on a three-pointer. Okur makes all the free throws, and the game goes to overtime. Marcus Banks and Barbosa both miss potential game-tiers and the Suns drop to 3-6.

Fast forward two days. It's 4:30 PST on November 20th, 2006, and the Suns are now taking on the Golden State Warriors (without Baron Davis) at Oracle Arena. This time, the Suns are the beneficiary of late-game heroics, as Steve Nash drains a three to give his team a 113-110 lead with 4.1 seconds left, and a Jason Richardson miss gives the Suns a 4-6 record for the young season.

Fast forward to December 7th, 4:30 PST, East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Suns have bounced back from their 3-6 record with a 7 game winning streak that started in Oakland, and now they are in the IZOD Center to take on the New Jersey Nets. At the end of regulation, Phoenix is down by three with 4 seconds left. Steve Nash masterfully drills a 29-footer to tie the game and force overtime. In Overtime, Mikki Moore makes a couple of tying free throws with 1:06 to play. Nobody scores for the rest of the period. The second OT begins with a Nash jumper, and the Suns never look back, taking the period 18-14 and the game by an astounding count of 161-157.

Next stop: December 22nd, US Airways Center in Phoenix, with the Washington Wizards, led by Gilbert Arenas, in town. The Suns have won 15 in a row. But tonight, they lose in Overtime as Gilbert Arenas has 54 points and Caron Butler adds 34 in a streak-busting game for the Wizards.

From December 29th through January 24th, two victories over the New York Knicks bookend another 15 game winning streak for the Suns, whose record now sits at an astounding 34-8. However, the Bucks could not do in Milwaukee what the Wizards did in Phoenix, and the Suns take win number 16.

Two nights later, in Cleveland, they snatch their 17th straight. After a flight from Cleveland to Minnesota overnight, the Suns fall the next day to the Timberwolves and a 44-point, 11-rebound effort from Kevin Garnett.

Phoenix wouldn't be done streaking after that; they'd have two more 5-game streaks and a 6-gamer en route to a 61-21 record.

Time to set a new scene.

January 27th, 2007

American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

4:30 PST

The Dallas Mavericks have been their usual selves through the first half or so of the season, totaling a record of 35-9. Down by 4 to the Sacramento Kings entering the final quarter, the Mavericks waste no time taking a 5-point lead with 9:44 to play. Down the stretch it's close, but Dirk Nowitzki makes two clinching free throws on his way to a 32-point, 11-rebound, 5-assist effort that gives the Mavericks a 36-9 record.

It's now Tuesday, February 7th, in Minneapolis, and the Mavericks have won 12 in a row. They've had two twelve-game winning streaks earlier in the season, but neither reached 13. Dallas has no issue breaking through that barrier tonight, holding the Timberwolves to 65 points on 29.6% shooting in a 26-point rout of the home team.

Monday, March 12th in Oakland, California. The Mavericks are now boasting a 17-game winning streak, tied with the Suns for the longest in the NBA this season. They won't be able to surpass Phoenix's streak, however, as the Warriors roll out a balanced, efficient offensive attack for a 17-point win.

These Mavericks would claim the #1 seed in the conference before being shockingly upset by the Warriors in the 1st round by the Warriors. Had the Mavericks not thrown a game to the Warriors in the penultimate game of the season, the LA Clippers might have made the playoffs over Golden State. But I'm not bitter.

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

4:30 PST

The Golden State Warriors are in town to take on the Houston Rockets. It's a fairly even match-up; the Warriors sit at 27-18, the Rockets at 24-20. Fittingly, it is a fairly close game, and the Rockets win 111-107 behind 36 points and 19 boards from Yao Ming.

Little do the .556 Rockets know that soon they will be .697.

Houston cruises through their next 22 straight games, winning by an average of 12.36 points per game.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

5:30 PST

The Rockets understandably feel good about themselves, riding a 22-game winning streak. The visiting Boston Celtics could not care less, as they come into tonight at 53-13. Pierce and Garnett each break 20 points and the Celtics stars rest as the defense holds the Rockets to 74 points, cooling off the offense and snapping the winning streak.

Houston would finish this season with a 55-27 record before losing to the Utah Jazz in 6 games in the opening round of the playoffs. The winning streak would prove to be largely fool's gold for the Rockets, as they were a pedestrian 33-27 in their other 60 games.

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

5:30 PST

The Milwaukee Bucks are off to a nice 5-5 start on the season, but there's trouble on the horizon. Tonight, they play the defending champion Boston Celtics, who are boasting a 8-2 record heading into this game. Boston quickly overwhelms the Bucks, going up by 12 at halftime and leading by that same margin heading into the final quarter. But the home team has no quit in them. Milwaukee uses 7 straight fourth quarter points by Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to close the gap to 4, and then a Luke Ridnour layup with one second left ties the game to force OT. The Celtics, however, are a great team for a reason, and the previous NBA Final's MVP Paul Pierce outscores the Bucks 5-4 in the overtime period as Boston advances to 9-2 on the year.

Christmas Day, December 25th, 2008

Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

2:00 PST

It's a battle of the greats; a true marquee match-up for a Nationally televised ABC game. The Boston Celtics against the Los Angeles Lakers. Boston, who won last year's finals match-up between the two, has won 19 straight games and has an amazing 27-2 record. The Lakers have been good in their own right, with a 23-5 record heading into this game. Boston starts the fourth quarter down 4, but a Tony Allen drive ties the game at 77 apiece. With 3:56 to play, Kevin Garnett gives the Celtics a 2-point lead. But Pau Gasol would score 7 straight Lakers points, sparking a 13-2 run to close out the game, give the Lakers a win, and snap the Celtics' winning streak.

Boston wouldn't get a chance to repeat this season, losing to the Orlando Magic in 7 games in the second round of the playoffs.

It would be a few years before the NBA would see another long winning streak.

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Staples Center, Los Angeles, California

7:30 PST

A week ago, the Clippers had the best record in the NBA at 8-2. Today, four losses later, they sit at 8-6, and have undoubtedly been struggling recently. The Minnesota Timberwolves are in town with a 6-7 record, not good, but still better than the 3-9 record that the New Orleans Hornets had before beating the Clippers in LA's last game. Chauncey Billups is playing in his first game all season as he rehabs from an Achilles tear, and his veteran leadership helps to break the Clippers out of their slump, taking a two point lead into halftime and winning the fourth quarter 25-18 as they grind out a 101-95 victory.

The performance is not great, but after dropping four straight, a win is a win.

Los Angeles builds a brief win streak with a follow-up blowout of Sacramento and a close victory in Utah. Three more routs in a row over Dallas, Phoenix, and Toronto give the Clippers a 6 game streak and a 14-6 record.

On Christmas day, LAC cruises over Denver, and then two days later they crush Boston by 29 for their 15th straight victory. The very next day, after a hard overnight flight to Utah, the Clippers somehow find a way to win in Salt Lake City for the second time on this streak, extending it to 16 games in a row.

The Clippers streak is still active, and they look to complete a 17th straight and a perfect 16-0 December with another win over Utah on Sunday, this time in Los Angeles. The Clippers streak has put them at the #1 spot in the conference, but as we've seen, that's no guarantee of playoff success.

Team Streak Streak Differential Season Record Other Streaks Postseason Success
'07 Suns 17 13.35 61-21 15W, 6W, 5W, 5W, 3L, 4L Lost in 6 games in 2nd Round

'07 Mavericks

17 13.24 67-15 L4, W12, W12, W8, W9 Lost in 6 games in 1st Round
'08 Rockets 22 12.36 55-27 L6, W5, W4, W5 Lost in 6 games in 1st Round
'09 Celtics 19 14.32 62-20 W6, L4, W12, W4, W6 Lost in 7 games in 2nd Round
'13 Clippers 16 15.38 24-6 W6, L4