Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Mitch Chortkoff
Sports Editor 

Clippers Put It Together On Historic Trip

6-1: Best In Franchise History

 

December 1, 2014

Doc Rivers

The joke in the Staples Center press room a few weeks ago was that new Clippers owner Steve Ballmer had called a meeting of the players. And he told them "if you don't start playing better I'm going to sell the team back to Donald Sterling."

Well, no need for that anymore.

The Clippers, who got off to a slow start this season, went on the road in the last week of November and did better than any Clippers team in history had ever done – six wins in seven games,

After routing Orlando and Miami the Clippers lost in Memphis, then won the last four games.

When they returned on December 1, Coach Doc Rivers reminded them that the first home game following a long trip is often a tough challenge. Tired from the travel, coming back to a different time zone, teams through the years have found this a problem.

But the Clippers proceeded to romp to a 127-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who three nights earlier had beaten the Lakers here.

I attended the Monday game and joined other media members in a pre-game session with the coach.

When it was suggested the Clipper players had bonded on the trip

Rivers accepted that theory but didn't emphasize it.

"It's true they have more time together with each other with less distractions on the road but I also think we just played better," he said.

So, can we assume the Clippers are at their best now?

"No," said Rivers. "I don't know any NBA coach who is satisfied with his team at this early point in the season. You keep improving. You try to improve every day."

Blake Griffin, who was named Western Conference player of the week, and Chris Paul, are the Clippers' biggest stars. But others made significant contributions.

Chris Paul

Reserve guard Jamal Crawford earned the unofficial honor of being named MVP of the road trip. Spencer Hawes, new to the Clippers this season, gave the second unit much-needed scoring punch. Jordan Farmar, Paul's backup at point guard, enjoyed his best stretch of the season. In Monday's game against Minnesota Farmar made a trio of three-point shots to contribute nine points.

Farmar, who played for the Lakers last season before becoming a free agent, has replaced another former UCA guard, Darren Collison, as Paul's relief man. Collison, who was a free agent, signed with Sacramento and is playing well there.

Despite the Clippers' success on the trip they came home as only the seventh best team in the talent-rich Western Conference. Last year they finished third.

"But it's tightly bunched," Rivers observed. "We're not very far out of first place."

But Rivers knows the Clippers have to improve to be the equal of defending NBA champion San Antonio.

"The Spurs are better than the rest of us," he concluded.

 

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