All the headlines go to the Lakers when it comes to Los Angeles basketball. No matter how badly they’re losing or no matter how stupidly they’re acting behind the scenes, it’s Lakers Lakers Lakers.
But maybe… just maybe… another team deserves way more attention than the Lakers. Cue Ken Berger from CBS Sports:
You’re forgiven if you hadn’t noticed that there was another team here that’s more fun to watch, if not more interesting — because drama and conflict are what we crave. Drama and conflict are what the NBA gives us a steady diet of, and Thursday was no exception. The coach of the Brooklyn Nets got fired, Dwight Howard got fined $35,000 for trying to rearrange Kenneth Faried’s face and Dwyane Wade got suspended for a game for kicking Ramon Sessions in the private parts. Those were the NBA storylines du jour when the Clippers took the floor against the Celtics, riding a 14-game winning streak.
Drama might sell, but at some point the sport is about winning. And when it’s the Clippers — the Clippers! — who are winning more than everybody else, and doing it in a more entertaining fashion than the Lakers are doing drama — doesn’t it command our curiosity?
If not, it should.
Are the Clippers (23-6) for real? To quote a popular sit-com from long ago, they’re real, and they’re spectacular.
The Clippers have now won 15 straight games. They have a chance to make it 16 straight, although it’s difficult to do since it’s on the road in a tail end of a back-to-back (they did rest their starters in the fourth during the Clips shellacking of the Celtics last night). Nevertheless, they have opened a lot of eyes in the NBA community. They look absolutely unstoppable right now. You know, like the Laker championship teams of old.
Berger had more, plus a quote from Chris Paul:
After winding up the Celtics and making them mindlessly crash into each other like incorrectly assembled Christmas toys Thursday night, Paul was asked if he’s noticed the Clippers adopting any part of his personality over the past 12 months since he arrived. He pretended not to know, or maybe he really didn’t. But whether he realized it or not, the answer he provided was the proof that yes, this has really happened. Chris Paul has made the Clippers championship contenders.
“I think the biggest thing that everyone has taken on is just a winning attitude,” Paul said. “Not settling for less … just trying to win at all costs, at all times. It’s all about winning. It’s not about anything else other than winning.”
The calendar year isn’t over yet but these guys are not flukes. After all, the Clippers did go to the playoffs last season. They were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the second round but you figured that they would only improve. Especially after they got throwaways from other teams like Jamal Crawford (who has absolutely been on fire), Ronny Turiaf, Grant Hill (who hasn’t played yet), Lamar Odom, and Matt Barnes. These guys aren’t messing around. As Berger mentioned in the article, they are Top 5 in both offensive and defensive ratings.
We heard it from the TNT guys last night. How are they going to be when the game slows down and it becomes a halfcourt game? Isn’t that a bit foolish to question that? They only have the best point guard in the world with Chris Paul; you don’t think he’s going to dissect everybody in the halfcourt? And they proved last year that they could play a grind-it-out game. They beat Memphis, known as a very physical team, in seven games last season. And again, they are Top 5 in defense this season. In the playoffs where defense reigns, the Clippers have that and that’s the biggest difference from last season (18th in total defense) to this season (currently ranked 2nd).
It’s a bit early, yes, but I really think it’s time to pay attention to the Clippers. And people should’ve paid attention to them even before they ran off 15 straight wins.