Clippers Stage Impressive Comeback for 16th Straight
'They aren't battle tested because every game during the streak is a blowout'.
No longer. Lob Angeles found themselves in a deep hole at Energy Solutions Arena on Friday night, playing the second of a back-to-back after their blowout win against the Boston Celtics Thursday night. The Jazz kept increasing their lead while the Clippers appeared lost on defense, unable to thwart the effort of one of their former guards.
Randy Foye, the Clippers starting two guard last season after Chauncey Billups was lost for the season, scored a season-high 28 points last night, hitting 5 three-pointers, one of which extended the Jazz lead to 19 early in the third quarter. The Clippers had no answer for his quick trigger behind the arc through the first two and a half quarters, but they had a reserve within their arsenal.
Vinny del Negro decided to sit Willie Green in favor of placing the taller and more aggressive Matt Barnes on Foye for the remainder of the game and it proved to be the right move as Foye missed his final three three-point attempts, all with Barnes hounding him defensively. The most notable of those instances was with 3 seconds left and Foye attempting to draw a three-shot foul at the buzzer to no avail.
The Clippers trailed by only 4 points heading into the fourth and final period. It had to feel eerily similar to the Jazz and their home fans as the Clippers pulled a similar stunt early on in their win streak on December 3rd; the Jazz held a 10 point advantage heading into the final period, only to fall to the Clippers 105-104.
DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul hit all but one of their free throws down the stretch of the game, which is impressive because Jordan is shooting 40% from the line while Griffin hovers around 60%. Jordan finished two three-point plays down the stretch, the final giving the Clippers their first lead since early in the second quarter. Jordan banked in the free throw, his second bank of the game, and swears he called it prior to the shot.
Toughness, grit and teamwork allowed the Clippers to put on display their ability to fight when things look their worst. In a game they probably could have conceded, the Clippers fought till the final whistle. And that is the difference a year makes. Vinny has his team playing defense till the horn sounds and it has proved vital to this teams' success.
16 in a row is no small feat. 17 of the last 23 teams to have win streaks on 16 or longer made a trip to the NBA Finals. Not an all-telling stat, but one that shouldn't be ignored. This Clippers team is for real.