The Los Angeles Clippers were in danger of watching their losing streak stretch to four games Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena, but they washed away their woes and thrashed the Cleveland Cavaliers in a convincing 113-94 win.
J.J. Redick led the Clippers with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting (4-of-6 from three), but Blake Griffin turned heads by scoring 13 points while tying a career high with 11 assists.
Chris Paul added 16 points and nine assists, while DeAndre Jordan recorded nine points and 15 rebounds.
As a team, the Clippers assisted on 33 of 42 made baskets—a number that stood out, considering the Cavaliers posted 12 dimes and 18 turnovers.
According to Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver, L.A.'s triumph allowed Paul to best his buddy LeBron James for the first time in more than four years:
Kyrie Irving paced the Cavaliers with 28 points, and James added 16 of his own. But the defending NBA champions floundered on a night when they shot 40.6 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from three-point range.
With that said, they did get one big highlight jam out of James before the night was over:
Although the first half was a tight affair for the first 20 minutes, the Clippers surged toward the end of the second quarter and led by eight points at halftime after outscoring the Cavaliers 34-22 in the frame.
A major part of the Clippers' second-quarter success revolved around Griffin and Redick, each of whom was locked in.
Redick led the Clippers with 21 points in the first half, and he bombed away from all over the floor to help the Clippers find their groove, as NBA.com's shot chart illustrated:
Then there was Griffin, who returned to the floor after resting during the Clippers' loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.
Griffin tallied eight assists in the first half alone—a benchmark he had hit in a single game once all season entering Thursday—and one of his finer dimes came on a big-to-big lob to Jordan late in the second quarter:
Irving cooked with 17 points in the first half, but nine Cavaliers turnovers capped their scoring potential.
The Clippers opened the third quarter on a 13-2 run that saw their lead balloon to 19, and they continued to swish, dish and hustle at rates far superior to a Cleveland team that was burned by 17 points in a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
NBA.com's Lang Whitaker took note of how aesthetically pleasing the Clippers' brand of ball is to watch when they're clicking:
But the Clippers defense also impressed in a tough matchup against the Cleveland, which owns a top-five offense in its own right.
Not only did James have trouble finding twine on a consistent basis, but he also turned the ball over five times. Plus, J.R. Smith was limited to three points, and Kevin Love was silenced on the boards to the tune of four rebounds against Jordan and Griffin.
When evaluating the Clippers' title prospects, defense can't be ignored.
While head coach Doc Rivers' club has been renowned for offensive expertise over the past few seasons, the Clippers own the Western Conference's top defensive rating this year. If they can continue to hone in on that end and make opponents work for each and every bucket, a trip to the Western Conference Finals could finally be in store.
But for now, the focus will remain on short-term goals as the Clips put a three-game struggle behind them and look to build on Thursday's win.
L.A. will close out its six-game road trip with a game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday in a tough spot against Anthony Davis and Co. on the second night of a back-to-back, but things should get easier after that.
Once the excursion is wrapped up, the Clippers will be home for a four-game stretch that features meetings with the Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers.
Cleveland, on the other hand, has lost back-to-back games for the first time this season after dropping only two of its first 15 games.
Just like the Clippers, the Cavs will have to suit up again Friday night, when they travel to the Windy City for a showdown against Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls.
Cavaliers play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod relayed a handful of soundbites from head coach Tyronn Lue following the loss:
Furthermore, Lue praised Redick for his outstanding showing.
"Redick hurt us," he said, per the Cavs' official Twitter account. "I thought his movements, you know, off the ball—he's a great mover without the ball, but sometimes we missed some coverages where we left him wide open. But I just thought J.J. Redick's movement in the first half really hurt us."
Stats courtesy of NBA.com.