After playing four games in a five-day span, the Clippers have just two games over the next six days: a home game Wednesday night against the New York Knicks and a road game Friday night at Sacramento. The Clips went 2-0 against the Knicks last season, although Carmelo Anthony scored 42 points in their first meeting.
The week behind
The Clippers went 3-2 over their tough stretch, and it’s worth noting that both losses were against Western Conference opponents — Memphis and Oklahoma City. The loss to the Grizzlies marked the Clippers’ first defeat at Staples Center this season. They rebounded after each setback, however, and have lost as many as two in a row just once.
Record and standings
Through Sunday’s games, the Clippers (10-5) lead the Pacific Division over second-place Golden State and are fourth in the conference, trailing San Antonio, Portland and OKC.
Patience finally paid off for veteran Antawn Jamison, who sat for the Clippers’ first 14 games, then came off the bench Sunday to deliver 11 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes during a 121-82 rout of the Chicago Bulls. Jamison has never complained about his lack of playing time, and as the season moves forward, he’s expected to assume a larger role.
A lack of consistency at the defensive end has been the Clippers’ biggest problem area. They blew a 20-point lead Saturday against the Sacramento Kings and had to hang on at the buzzer, then came back Sunday with a complete performance against the Bulls. Getting back quickly in transition, helping out and keeping their energy level high are all keys to improving.
Player to watch
Small forward Jared Dudley is playing despite tendinitis in his right knee, but his offensive numbers don’t show it. Dudley scored a season-high 21 points against the Bulls and has made 12 of 17 shots over two games, including 6 of 10 three-pointers. With Matt Barnes sidelined after retinal eye surgery, Dudley might be forced into playing more minutes, something coach Doc Rivers wants to avoid until his knee is fully healthy. So far, it hasn’t been a problem.
Stat of the week
The Clippers don’t need to be told the importance of defense, but here’s a statistic that surely jumps out at them: Since the start of last season, they are 33-0 when holding an opponent to 42-percent shooting or worse. No other team in the league can match that record, although the Thunder are 41-1.
“We can’t become relaxed and reliant on just trying to outscore teams. So it’s more of a mindset thing for us, going into each game and knowing that we’ve got to grind.” — Blake Griffin, on the importance of playing consistent defense.