The LA Clippers took on the Houston Rockets on Martin Luther King day at the Staples Center. This marked the first appearance of Chris Paul back in LA since he wanted to leave. He was cheered at the introduction and then booed once the game started. Houston was still missing all star guard and leading mvp candidate James Harden, out with a groin injury. The atmosphere was playoff like as the Clippers had won 4 in a row despite having many injuries of their own and climbed back in playoff contention. It has truly been remarkable with injuries to Patrick Beverly (out for the year with a knee injury, Austin Rivers- leg, Dino Gallinari-glute and recently DeAndre Jordan-ankle. The last 3 should be back in not too long and this is after Blake Griffin returning from his injury lately.
The term next man up has been brought up quite often and many young guys are showing great signs and playing fantastic. One was CJ Williams who got injured as well right before the team had to decide on his contract so he is in limbo. But others such as Tyrone Williams and Juvon Evans have made impressed coming up from the g-leauge. Lou Williams has been incredible and making a bid for the all star team while they are getting strong play from role players such as Wesley Johnson, Montrez Harrel- Mr. Energy, Milos Teodosic.
These teams have not liked each other for a while and the Clippers still have bad memories when they had a 3-1 lead to go to the Conference Finals 3 yrs ago at home and Houston came back from double digits in the 4th quarter without playing Harden and then won the series.
This was a back and forth intense game until late in the 4th quarter when the Clippers made some key plays and came away with the win. Paul had a good game but the energy, hustle and desire made LA victorious. Blake Griffin and Rockets coach Mike D’Antonio got into an argument which led to technicals for each and Blake got his second after a skirmish with Trevor Ariza so he was gone. By that time, the Clippers were far enough ahead. Bizarre stuff happened after as Ariza and Gerald Green entered the Clipper locker room and there was almost a scuffle I heard about. Those 2 were suspended for two game each.
This could be Doc Rivers best coaching job since he he has been in LA and the team chemistry looks great. Everyone is picking up the slack and cheering for each other. They are getting contributions from everyone and Williams has been on a tear averaging over 30 points the last month and being named player of the month for the NBA. Next up is the Denver Nuggets as the all star game and break in a few weeks. The team is confident and even won for the first time vs. Golden St on the road last week with Williams going for 50 points. Houston returns to Staples on Feb. 28th which promises to be heated matchup. More at www.nba.com/clippers