Events That Drastically Changed the Course of the LA Clippers' Season
Heading back to the playoffs for the second consecutive season, the Los Angeles Clippers had a series of highs and lows en route to their first ever Pacific Division championship.
The 82-game season is an incredible marathon, and the Clippers have had their fair share of celebrations and disappointments. From early-season losses at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New Orleans Hornets to the impact of a 17-game winning streak, the birth of A Tribe Called Bench and the fourth-quarter magic of Chris Paul, Lob City is gearing up for what could be a deep postseason run.
What events compelled the Clips to turn it up? Who saw Lob City grounded?
We will take a look at some of LAC's defining peaks and troughs this season.
5. November Know-How
The Clippers started the season with a brutal schedule facing some of the NBA’s best teams.
Los Angeles began the campaign playing eight of its first 10 games against playoff teams. Lob City started fast, going 8-2 in that span, with its only two losses coming in shockers at home against the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.
Throw in the Halloween season-opener victory against the rival Memphis Grizzlies, and Lob City looked to be a contender.
Despite the drop in momentum that has seen the Clips go just 15-10 since the All-Star break, LAC’s quick start gave the team the confidence that it could beat anyone.
4. What's My Age Again?
It was the first real sign of dissent in the locker room and an indication that Lob City might have grown frustrated with its pedestrian record in the second half of the season. Simers even mentioned reports that the ever-earnest Chris Paul had begun to be tuned out by some of the Clips.
Perhaps, as Simers mentioned in his next column, the Clips should thank the Times and Page 2 for igniting a sense of urgency down the stretch.
3. The Bump
Clipper Nation will remember Chris Paul’s infamous knee bump as the turning point in what had been an otherwise fantastic season.
Late in the fourth quarter against the pesky Orlando Magic, Paul bumped knees with guard J.J. Redick, sending him to the deck. Orlando went on to win the game 104-101, but that was only the beginning of a downturn for the Clips.
Although Los Angeles won its next three straight on the road without CP3 in the lineup, the team went on to lose eight of its next 12 games. With Paul out of the lineup, the Clips are a mediocre 6-6 this season.
The knee bump that sent Paul to the ground certainly grounded Lob City, putting Los Angeles in a slump that it is just beginning to recover from.
2. Pacific Division Champs
The Clippers’ most historic regular-season win came against the Los Angeles Lakers and resulted in the first ever Pacific Division championship for the Red, White and Blue.
Heading into the game, the Clips had lost three of their last five, but came ready to play against their co-tenant rivals. Lob City went up early and coasted to a 109-95 victory over the Lakers, a team struggling to keep its playoff hopes alive.
The win over the Lakers gave Lob City its fourth straight win in this season’s Battle of L.A., sweeping the Purple and Gold for the first time in Clippers history. It was just another milestone for the Clips in the Chris Paul era.
1. Four Down, 17 Up
After dropping four straight games late in November, the Clippers responded by knocking off 17 straight opponents.
Some will argue that the Clippers peaked too early, but there is no denying the magic of their 17-game winning streak and undefeated December. During the streak, Lob City had huge wins over the Utah Jazz, Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics.
The Clippers outscored opponents by an absurd average of 15.2 points per game. Los Angeles roughed up opponents, burning the opposition to the tune of a 111.0 offensive rating.
Their defense was also tight, as Los Angeles sported a defensive rating of 95.2 while racking up an average of 11.0 steals per game. As a reference, the Pacers boast the grittiest defense, holding a league-best defensive rating of 96.5.
Much can be said about the Clips’ 30-20 record since the streak, but Los Angeles proved that it can turn it up to a high level for an extended period of time.
Clipper Nation can only hope that the team continues its recent play, ready to elevate its performance this postseason.