Clippers week in review; Winning streak ends at 11
The week ahead
The Clippers (48-21) faced the toughest game of a back-to-back that every NBA team dreads: Denver on Monday night after playing at home the night before. The altitude was a killer, and it was evident in their 110-100 loss to the Nuggets, but at least they'll get a four-day break to recover before facing the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night at Staples Center.
The week behind
The 11-game winning streak stayed intact with victories at home over Phoenix and Golden State and a road win at Utah. The Clippers evened their season series with the Warriors, winning both games at Staples, in what could be a playoff preview.
Record and standings
The Clippers have a virtual lock on their second consecutive Pacific Division title. But far more important is their standing in the Western Conference. They currently trail second-place Oklahoma City (49-18) by two games and first-place San Antonio by 3 1/2 games, meaning playoff matchups against Dallas or Memphis are still possible.
Give some credit to point guard Chris Paul, who is playing despite several injuries, including a sprained left ankle and right thumb, plus a sore groin and sore hip. Paul has struggled with his shooting lately -- understandable, given his ailments -- but he has remained an important facilitator with his passing and a tough defender. As he says frequently, this is not the time to be sitting out.
Keeping cool during the playoffs will be important, which center DeAndre Jordan learned last Wednesday against the Warriors. Jordan picked up a technical foul late in the game at a time when tempers were rising on both sides. He got an earful from coach Doc Rivers, who reminded him that technicals and ejections can be costly once the postseason begins. Jordan will have to stay calm under fire from now on.
Player to watch
Guard Willie Green spends most of his time on the bench, but he is always prepared to play and is a consummate professional. Green got his chance Sunday night when guard Darren Collison sat out with a stomach virus, and he responded with 10 points, four rebounds and two assists. Green also filled in for Collison Monday in Denver. With Collison, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick ahead of him, Green won't get too many chances, but he will always be ready.
Stat of the week
Blake Griffin just keeps scoring. He had 26 points against the Denver Nuggets on Monday, extending his streak of 20-plus games to 27. He's a long way from matching Bob McAdoo's franchise record of 57 games set in 1974-75, but it's still an impressive feat.
"I think the MVP race is a two-man race." -- Blake Griffin, on his chances of winning the league's MVP award over favorites Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and LeBron James of Miami