FRIDAY FIVE: BEST OF BACK IN BLUE, PART 1
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
The Clippers wore their baby blue alternate jerseys seven times during the 2013-14 regular season, including six times at home and once on the road. They went 6-1 in the uniforms, averaged 115.9 points with a point differential of plus-19.5, had two of the most lopsided victories in franchise history and defeated the Thunder in Oklahoma City on day one of a February back-to-back. There were plenty of highlight moments from those seven games. The lone loss, a five-point defeat to Indiana in December, had enough incredible plays to make a Friday 5 out of that game in and of itself. With that in mind, it was necessary to break down the top five plays into two segments.
This week’s list includes plays No. 10 through 6 from the “Back in Blue” games. Take a look:
10. Nov. 24, 2013 vs. Chicago. The first “Back in Blue” game came four weeks into the season and included the biggest blowout win in Clippers’ franchise history, a record that would fall again, twice, before the conclusion of the season. The Bulls came into Staples Center on the heels of superstar Derrick Rose tearing his meniscus. The Clippers took advantage. They won by 39 and pulled away in the second half. Jared Dudley scored 21 points, including play No. 10. All five players on the floor touched the ball and it ended with a Blake Griffin lob to DeAndre Jordan getting tapped mid-air to Dudley on the left wing. Dudley stepped into the shot and drained it, putting the Clippers ahead, 83-63.
9. Feb. 23, 2014 at Oklahoma City. With a chance to take the lead in the final minute and a half, MVP Kevin Durant missed a pair of free throws and Jamal Crawford made the Thunder pay. He played a two-man game with Chris Paul on the other end and wound up with a clean look at a 3-pointer to give the Clippers a 119-115 lead. Crawford drew contact on the shot and fell chest first to the floor. Even though no foul was called, Crawford’s shot arguably put away one of the biggest road wins of the season for the Clippers and the only road game in baby blue.
8. Dec. 1, 2013 vs. Indiana. After the way Indiana started the season, their afternoon game at Staples Center served as an early-season litmus test for both teams. The Pacers jumped out to a double-digit lead and as they did so often, the Clippers came roaring back. Most of the run came with a group of reserves on the floor in the fourth quarter, but it got started with Paul’s aggressiveness. Here he takes contact from Paul George, hangs in the air, adjusts his shot and somehow finds a way to bank in a runner from about 15 feet.
7. Apr. 6, 2014 vs. Lakers. After two historic blowouts of the Lakers, the 120-97 win in April was almost pedestrian. Well, except for Griffin’s breakaway dunk around rookie Ryan Kelly. Griffin poked a pass away, caught the ball, spun, pushed it ahead from midcourt, faked a pass and jumped between Kelly and Kendall Marshall for a ferocious right-handed dunk. Yeah, that’s a power forward.
6. Dec. 1, 2013 vs. Indiana. One of three Indiana highlights to make the top 10, Griffin steals a bad entry pass by George Hill and somehow finds a way to throw the ball ahead to Reggie Bullock for a breakaway layup. The pass, a left-handed wrap around look, was not only a perfect example of how good Griffin is with the ball in his hands, but also showed off his creativity and showmanship.