If you still think the Clippers’ winning streak isn’t a big deal — and who would really still be thinking that as they go for their 18th in a row Tuesday night in Denver? — then consider that there have been entire seasons when they didn’t win that many games.
Seven of them, in fact.
The Clippers’ first real clunker of a season came in 1981-82 in San Diego, when they won only 17 of 82 games. They set a franchise record with only 12 victories in 1986-87, their third season after re-locating to Los Angeles. They also won 9 of 50 in the lockout shorted season in 1998-99.
So, to put it in historical context, winning 17 consecutive games and improving to an NBA-leading 25-6 after Sunday’s victory over the Utah Jazz, is a very big deal for a franchise that’s been ridiculed and mocked for most of its existence.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Sunday. “It’s been a great month for us. … It wasn’t an easy game, but we found a way (to win), like we have been this whole month. I’m just proud of the guys and the way they’ve stuck together throughout a difficult month.”
The Clippers last defeat was Nov. 26 against the New Orleans Hornets.
They have beaten Minnesota, Sacramento, Utah, Dallas, Phoenix, Toronto, Chicago, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Detroit, New Orleans, Sacramento (again), Phoenix (again), Denver, Boston, Utah (again) and Utah (one more time) for the NBA’s longest streak since Boston won 19 in a row in 2008-09.
The Clippers became the third team in league history to go 16-0 during December, joining the 1971-72 Lakers and the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs, whose roster included a guard by the name of Del Negro. The Lakers went on to set the league record with a 33-game winning streak.
“We’ve got something extremely magical going on,” forward Caron Butler said. “We expect to win every time we step onto the court. At lot of teams say it, but we have a realistic shot every night, whether it’s at home or on the road.”