It was a historic season for the Los Angeles Clippers. Not only did they clinch their first Pacific Division title, but they set a record for total wins, home wins, total consecutive wins and consecutive home wins.
Coinciding with those accomplishments came five of the most memorable games of the season. But which ones made the cut?
Was it the Clippers' win over the Los Angeles Lakers on November 2 that derailed Mike Brown’s tenure in L.A.? What about the win on the last day of the season to cap off a 56-win campaign? Perhaps it was the March 10 blowout against Detroit, when DeAndre Jordan posterized poor Brandon Knight?
After being swept out of the 2012 playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers had one game circled on their 2012-13 calendar, November 7 against the Spurs.
The Spurs entered the matchup 4-0, but left Staples Center after a beating from an angry Clippers team:
We still remember what they did to us a couple months ago, Jordan said about the team that swept the Clippers out of the second round of the playoffs. That was extra motivation.
The Clippers' guards went after the Spurs’ guards, holding Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to a combined 4-of-15 shooting.
Meanwhile, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan showed a glimpse of potential turning into reality. The two athletic towers recorded double-doubles and combined for 44 points and 21 rebounds.
Playing their first game of the season against the defending champions, the Los Angeles Clippers were out to prove they were among the best teams in the league.
Blake Griffin continued his early season stat-stuffing success, scoring 20 points to go along with 14 rebounds and six assists. Jamal Crawford’s talents were also on display, scoring 22 points in 24 minutes.
After that night, the Heat took notice:
The road just gets tougher, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. That's a good team. We view them as legit competitors for the title.
The Los Angeles Clippers were within games of clinching their first Pacific Division title in franchise history, but Tim Duncan had other plans for the final meeting of the regular season between the two teams.
With the San Antonio Spurs trailing 102-101 with seven seconds remaining, Duncan hit the Clippers with a knockout blow. Duncan was fouled by Willie Green on a mid-range jumper and buried it from 16 feet. He then stepped to the line and drilled the foul shot to put the Spurs up two.
Duncan finished with a season-high 34 points and recorded 11 rebounds.
There was a stretch where they put the whistle away, Duncan said. It gave me a little energy to kind of play a little harder. I got some shots to go early and it just kind of snowballed from there.
Chris Paul was not so complimentary of Duncan’s late-game heroics:
He traveled, Paul said. I can say that, right? He traveled. I just looked at the film. He traveled. He made an unbelievable shot, though. We have to do better. I'm not trying to take anything away from him. It was an unbelievable big-time shot. That's why he's one of the best power forwards to ever play the game. But, he traveled.
Perhaps the most exciting game of the season, but it started a three-game losing streak that nearly cost the Clippers home-court advantage in the playoffs.
When we win we usually jump up and down once or twice, coach Vinny Del Negro said. Tonight we let them jump and down three or four times, so everyone had their fill.
The celebration was warranted indeed, because it would be the last win during the franchise-record winning streak.
The record had to feel fitting, especially for those in the organization that had never seen this type of success before. Remember, before the Clippers made the playoffs last season, the franchise had only made the playoffs four times since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.
Not only did the Clippers set a record for a perfect month, but they also took over the best record in the league. In true 2012-13 Clipper fashion, the bench dominated and Caron Butler led the game in scoring with 29 points.
It could not have come against a more fitting opponent than the Los Angeles Lakers. On April 7, with a 14-point win over their cross-hall rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers clinched their first Pacific Division title in franchise history.
It just feels like something we were supposed to do, said Paul, who had 24 points and 12 assists. It means we're headed in the right direction. We're not satisfied. We understand this is something small compared to the big picture.
Not only did they dispatch the Lakers to win the division, but they also swept their fellow Staples Center tenants in the process.
The 1974-75 team, known as the Buffalo Braves, had the franchise's only other sweep of the Lakers.
Fans chanted, "Sweep! Sweep!" in the closing seconds.
Sterling accepted a congratulatory handshake from a fan after the game.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin dominated, both recording 24 and 12 double-doubles. Paul had 12 assists and Griffin 12 rebounds.
The win seemed to energize the Clippers, as it was the second win in a stretch of seven straight to close the regular season and allowed the Clippers to hold on to clinch home court.