FRIDAY FIVE: BEST HOME WINS
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
FRIDAY FIVE: BEST HOME WINS OF 2013-14
The Clippers won 34 of their 41 home games during the regular season. Calling them dominant in their friendly confines may be an understatement. They led the league in point differential at home (plus-10.8) and tied with Oklahoma City for the second best home winning percentage (.829) behind the Pacers. It was the most successful home slate in franchise history and was full of markedly impactful wins. That was their greatest regular-season comeback, three record-setting blowouts, and a pair of double-figure wins over the Spurs and Thunder.
Here is a look at the five best wins at home this season, considering opponent, circumstance and impact of the game:
5. Clippers 123, 76ers 78 (Feb. 9, 2014): The 76ers finished with the second worst record in the NBA and in February were mired in one of the lengthiest losing streaks in league history. So, for the game to be ranked among the best of the regular season, it had to be special. There needed to be something dramatic. Chris Paul’s return to the lineup after an 18-game absence with a separated shoulder. There needed to be something spectacular: Blake Griffin’s back-to-back alley-oops in the second quarter just minutes after limping off the floor with a leg injury. And there needed to be something historic: a 56-point lead in the third quarter and a 45-point victory, the largest in franchise history at home. The start of the game was brilliant enough, when the Clippers raced out to 30-5 lead that swelled to 54-17 about three minutes prior to halftime.
Stat line of the game: Griffin (26 points on 11-for-14 shooting in 25 minutes, 11 rebounds and 6 assists)
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4. Clippers 111, Warriors 98 (Mar. 12, 2014): It was in the midst of their 11-game winning streak, game No. 9 for that matter. Darren Collison was tasked with guarding Klay Thompson, giving up nearly 8 inches in height. J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford were out. The Clippers were on the ropes on the third quarter. That’s when the defense picked up and they held the Warriors to 19 fourth-quarter points and pulled away. Griffin, who had one of his 18 games with 30 points or more, dominated, including putting an exclamation point on the win with a follow dunk that led the Ralph Lawler calling him the “Flyin’ Lion.” Afterwards Griffin used the word “proud” three separate times to describe his team’s resilience and toughness. He was right, and the 13-point win set the tone for what would happen less than two months later when the Clippers would thwart the Warriors with another double-digit comeback in Game 7 of their first round series with Golden State.
Stat line of the game: Griffin (30 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals)
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3. Clippers 115, Spurs 92 (Dec. 16, 2013): Returning from seven-game road trip, the Clippers had effectively the toughest possible opponent waiting for them in Los Angeles. The way things started it looked like the road trip was weighing on their weary legs, but the Clippers won the second quarter, 34-21 and then buried the defending Western Conference champions in the fourth. Paul outscored Tony Parker, 23-8, and neared a triple-double and Willie Green had 11 points off the bench, including burying a 3-pointer in the fourth that sparked the blowout.
Stat line of the game: Paul (23 points on 8-for-13 shooting, 7 assists, 8 rebounds and 4 steals)
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2. Clippers 129, Mavericks 127 (Jan. 15, 2014): In a season full of comebacks, the best of the regular season, and one of the most memorable in Clippers’ history came in mid-January with Paul sidelined. Trailing 123-106 with four and a half minutes remaining, the Clippers vaulted back in the game as fans headed to the exits. It started with a pair of free throws by Griffin and ended with a final free throw by DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers scored 23 of the final 27 points, including canning five 3-pointers in the run. Collison, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick made at least one with Redick’s dramatic step-back 3-pointer with 34 seconds left bringing the Clippers to within one. It was Redick’s final shot of the game, and gave him a career-high 33 points (seven 3-pointers). Crawford put the Clippers ahead with a pair of free throws a possession later and after Jordan swiped the inbounds pass on Dallas’ final possession, the comeback was complete.
Stat line of the game: Redick (33 points on 10-for-14 shooting, 7-for-9 3-point range, 5 assists and 2 steals)
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1. Clippers 122, Trail Blazers 117 (Feb. 12, 2014): The last game before the All-Star break offers a number of unknowns, particularly in terms of focus. But with the Blazers and Clippers both fighting for a top seed in the West, the Feb. 12 meeting at Staples Center turned into one of the most thrilling games of the season. There were 40 lead changes in the offensive exhibition and both teams shot better than 50 percent, including L.A. shooting 58.2 percent from the field. It was Paul’s second game back from his shoulder injury, and he had 20 points and 12 assists. But Griffin’s duel with fellow All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge was the jewel of the game. Griffin went for 36 points and 10 rebounds, outplaying a player who had long been considered an MVP candidate. Aldridge had 25 points and three boards, but Griffin helped put Portland away scoring twice in the final five minutes.
Stat line of the game: Griffin (36 points, 10 rebounds and 1 assist)
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