The Clippers are finally back home after two weeks on the road. Their next four games are at Staples Center, but none can be considered easy: San Antonio (19-4) on Monday night, New Orleans (11-10) on Wednesday, Denver (13-9) on Saturday and Minnesota (11-12) next Sunday. All are first-time meetings except the Timberwolves, whom the Clippers have beaten twice.
The week behind
The Clippers finished the second week of their grueling seven-game trip with wins at Philadelphia and Boston, a loss at Brooklyn and a victory at Washington. It left them with a 4-3 record on the trip, although they probably should have gone 5-2.
Record and standings
The Clippers’ 16-9 record still leads the Pacific Division, but they have the fifth-best record in the Western Conference, behind the Portland Trail Blazers, Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets. However, if the playoffs began today, the Clippers would be the fourth seed.
Coach Doc Rivers’ return to Boston last Wednesday night was a rousing success. First, Rivers was greeted by a warm ovation at TD Garden, fitting for a man who coached the Celtics for nine seasons and led them to the 2007-08 NBA title. Second, his team gave him a 96-88 victory, getting two big three-pointers from Jamal Crawford in the final three minutes.
One night after beating the Celtics, the Clippers had a big letdown in Brooklyn against a Nets team enduring a miserable season. The Clippers had a 13-point lead in the first quarter but faded quickly, scoring 19 points in the second quarter and 18 in the third. They shot 37 percent from the floor and missed 17 of 52 free throws. That’s a game they could have won.
Player to watch
Rivers pulled a struggling Willie Green from the starting lineup Saturday and put Jamal Crawford in the backcourt with Chris Paul. Good move. Crawford, whose deadly outside shooting has been a key to the team’s bench play, responded with 17 points on 6 of 14 shooting. Look for Rivers to keep the Paul-Crawford combination until J.J. Redick is ready to return from a broken right hand.
Stat of the week
Paul’s shooting line against the Wizards on Saturday was remarkable: He scored 38 points on 14 shots, becoming only the ninth player since the 1985-86 season to score as many as 38 on 14 or fewer attempts, according to Clippers.com. The last guard to do it? Magic Johnson in April 1990.
“It was important to close out. We kind of looked at it as a Game 7 for us. Being on the road Game 7, you’ve got to win. I thought we responded well.” — Clippers forward Blake Griffin