Clippers in a groove, leading the Heat 58-40 at halftime at Miami

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Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin scored 10 points in the first half at Miami/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Don’t look now, but the Clippers seem to be finding their groove, if the first half at Miami on Thursday is any indication.

The Clippers led the Heat 39-15 after the first quarter and now lead 58-40 at halftime. Sure, Miami is without Dwyane Wade (hamstring), but even if he were playing it likely would not have mattered because the Clippers played that well.

Los Angeles (6-4) shot 59.5 percent in the half, 43.8 (7 of 16) from 3-point range. Chris Paul had 12 points and seven assists, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan scored 10 points apiece, Matt Barnes had nine points and J.J. Redick eight.

Chris Bosh of Miami (6-5) led everyone with 18 points.

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Chris Paul says the ‘trust’ was there Wednesday night in win at Orlando

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Chris Paul

Chris Paul scored 16 points and doled out nine assists in the Clippers’ 114-90 victory at Orlando on Wednesday/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

After all that negative talk about trust issues within the Clippers’ offense following their 105-89 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday at Staples Center, it was the opposite following the Clippers’ 114-90 victory Wednesday at Orlando to start a seven-game road trip.

“Tonight there was a lot more trust,” Chris Paul, who scored 16 points and doled out nine assists, said afterward. “We moved the ball very well and got open shots and we defended. That was huge for us.”

The Clippers (6-4) continue their trip tonight (Thursday) when they play at Miami at 5 (on Prime Ticket, TNT). The Heat (6-5) are superior to Orlando (5-8). Paul seems to realize that.

“That was one game,” he said of the win over the Magic. “I think (tonight) it will be a huge test to see if we can sustain it.”

 

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Blake Griffin says ball didn’t stick; the bonding has begun on the road

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Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin scored 20 points in Wednesday’s 114-90 victory at Orlando/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Coach Doc Rivers talked about the solid ball movement of his team after its 114-90 victory at Orlando on Wednesday. Blake Griffin, who scored 20 points, gave a more colorful description.

“The ball was hopping,” said Griffin, whose team plays at Miami tonight (Thursday) at 5 (on Prime Ticket, TNT). “We didn’t really have many possessions where it stuck. That is the key for us. When we move that ball, it is tough to stop us.”

The victory was the beginning of a seven-game road trip, one in which the Clippers (6-4) are hopeful they can bond after playing eight of their first nine games at Staples Center.

“We get to spend some time together,” Griffin said. “You know, on the road it kind of brings you together and you are forced to come together. You are all that you have in the arena. We are looking forward to capitalizing on it.”

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Doc Rivers talks Miami Heat, which will likely be without Dwyane Wade

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Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh leads the Miami Heat in scoring and rebounding/Photo courtesy of Miami Heat, NBA.com

 

The Clippers figure to have a tougher time tonight (Thursday) when they play at Miami (6-5) at 5 (on Prime Ticket, TNT).

The Clippers won 114-90 at Orlando on Wednesday, but the Magic – now 5-8 – had only one quality victory, over Milwaukee. Their other four wins came against poor teams, including one against Philadelphia, which is 0-11.

Of Miami’s six victories, three have come against Toronto (9-2), Washington (7-3) and Dallas (9-3). That said, the Heat have lost three of their past four. Of course, the biggest difference is they no longer have LeBron James.

Still, coach Doc Rivers has nothing but praise for them. And a bit of concern that the Heat are refreshed because they haven’t  played since Monday, when they broke a three-game losing streak with a 95-83 victory at Brooklyn.

“I haven’t watched them a lot,” Rivers said. “They are doing what they did last year. They’re great at moving the ball. They’re well-rested; I know they haven’t played in three or four days and we’re going to take their best punch. We know that. And we have to be able to take it.”

Chris Bosh, a 6-foot-11 post, leads Miami in scoring and rebounding with respective averages of 19.9 and 8.7. However, guard Dwyane Wade is doubtful and will likely miss his fourth consecutive game with a hamstring injury, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Wednesday.

 

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Doc Rivers stoked about bench play, ball movement in win at Orlando

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Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford scored a team-high 22 points in Wednesday’s 114-90 victory at Orlando/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Sure, Wednesday’s 114-90 victory at Orlando came against a team whose five victories had come against really lousy teams – except for Milwaukee – but that doesn’t mean coach Doc Rivers didn’t want to boast about about two things – his bench play, and ball movement.

“Yes, it was a great win,” said Rivers, whose 6-4 Clippers play tonight (Thursday) at Miami at 5 (on Prime Ticket, TNT). “Our bench out-scored our starters, which is a first. I thought in the first half they were great. Our starters got a long rest. And then in the second half, they came in and did the same thing.

“So when you play like that, like a whole team, it’s good. I think this is the best we’ve moved the ball this entire year. It’s hard to guard people when you move the ball that way.”

The starters scored 54 points, the bench 60. Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 22 points off the bench, Jordan Farmar had 13 and Spencer Hawes 10. Blake Griffin led the starters with 20 points.

The Clippers had 24 assists, Chris Paul getting nine. The Clippers had only 20 assists in their 105-89 loss to Chicago on Monday night at Staples Center.

Griffin is leading the Clippers in scoring through 10 games with a 22.8 average. Crawford is next at 18.4.

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Doc Rivers says he’s not sure his team needed a confidence booster

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Clippers sign Doc Rivers to contract extension

Doc Rivers, left, and owner Steve Ballmer, who was on hand for Wednesday’s victory at Orlando/Staff photo by David Crane

 

The Clippers entered Wednesday night’s game at Orlando with a record of 5-4 even though eight of those first nine games were at Staples Center. They were coming off an embarrassing 105-89 home loss to Chicago, a game in which the Clippers were out-scored 73-43 in the final two-plus quarters.

That’s why it was imperative the Clippers get off to a good start on their seven-game road trip against Orlando. After all, there are plenty of experts wondering what has been wrong with the Clippers, and you can bet some of the players themselves were wondering that same thing.

Following his team’s 114-90 victory over the Magic, Clippers coach Doc Rivers was asked if the victory was a confidence-builder for his team. His answer was interesting.

“I don’t know if we need a confidence booster, to be honest,” Rivers said. “We just need to keep working at it. It’s a long season. One game doesn’t make your season either way. We’ve just got to keep playing and getting better.”

Most of what he said makes sense. But to say his team might not have needed a confidence booster? Not buying that. It did need one.

The thing is, the Magic are not that good. A victory over Miami on Thursday would mean more.

 

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Clippers start road trip with a 114-90 victory over Orlando Magic

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Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford scored 22 points to lead the Clippers on Wednesday at Orlando/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers tonight (Wednesday) began their seven-game road trip on a positive note with a 114-90 victory at Orlando. New owner Steve Ballmer as on hand.

Jamal Crawford led the Clippers (6-4) with 22 points, Blake Griffin had 20, Chris Paul had 16 points and nine assists and Matt Barnes scored 13 points.

The Clippers, who led 56-48 at halftime, shot 53.6 percent from the field, 57.1 (12 of 21) from 3-point range.

Orlando (5-8) was led by Tobias Harris’ 25 points. Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 14 rebounds, but he had 13 of those rebounds in the first half.

The Magic’s five victories have come against Philadelphia (0-10 on the season), Minnesota (2-7), New York (3-9), Milwaukee (6-5) and Detroit (3-8).

The Clippers figure to have a tougher time Thursday when they play at Miami (6-5) at 5 p.m. (on Prime Ticket, TNT).

 

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Clippers lead Magic 56-48 after one half of play at Orlando

The Clippers put together a nice-enough first half tonight (Wednesday) at Orlando and lead the Magic 56-48 at intermission.

Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford lead the Clippers (5-4) with 12 points apiece and Matt Barnes has 11 in his best half this season.

The Clippers shot 46.5 percent in the half, 60 percent (6 of 10) from 3-point range.

Nikola Vucevic, Orlando’s 7-foot post, leads his team with 15 points. He also grabbed a whopping 13 rebounds.

The Magic (5-7) shot just 40.9 percent in the half.

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Blake Griffin had a measly nine dunks ahead of Wednesday’s game

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Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers’ broadcast team today was talking about how the Clippers are taking more outside shots than they did this past season, and how Blake Griffin in particular is not shooting as much in the paint as he did in 2013-14. To anyone who’s been watching the team, that is not surprising as Griffin has made an effort to extend his game.

However, at the end of that part of the pre-game show on 980 AM radio, it was revealed that Griffin had thrown down only nine dunks in nine games ahead of Wednesday’s at Orlando. That is, obviously, one per game. In ’13-’14 Griffin threw down 176 dunks in 80 regular-season games. That is more than two per game. (The broadcast team said it was 192, but that included 16 dunks in the playoffs).

Not only is that one-dunk-per-game a stunning – in a negative way – statistic for a player like Griffin, who has been one of the most vicious dunk artists in recent seasons, it is the opinion here that his lack of dunks takes away from of the overall ferocity of the team. Heck, even former Lakers forward Pau Gasol – now with the Chicago Bulls – had 11 dunks before Wednesday, and he is  not the most hard-nosed player in the world.

By the way, Tyson Chandler of Dallas led the league with 34 dunks before Wednesday. Anthony Davis of New Orleans was second with 33 and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan was third with 29.

Anyway, the Clippers led the Magic 26-23 after one quarter of play.

 

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Clippers have third-highest payroll in the NBA for 2014-15 campaign

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Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin has the 13th-highest salary this season in the NBA; teammate Chris Paul is No. 8, according to HoopsHype.com/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

HoopsHype.com has posted the team payrolls for the NBA, and it’s interesting to see that the Clippers have the third-highest this season at $84,733,649.

Brooklyn is No. 1 at $93,741,207 and the New York Knicks are No. 2 at $89,672,190.

Individually, the top salary belongs to the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant at $23,500,000. Clippers guard Chris Paul is No. 8 at $20,068,563 and Clippers forward Blake Griffin is No. 13 at $17,632,688.

Incidentally, the Knicks’ Amar’e Stoudemire is No. 2 at $23,410,988. He’s averaging 11 points and 7.5 rebounds.

Where is Cleveland’s LeBron James? He’s at No. 6 with a salary of $20,644,400.

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