Five things to take from Clippers’ 106-98 victory over Bucks on Monday

- The Clippers had 13 turnovers against the worst team in the league, leading to this reaction from coach Doc Rivers: “I wasn’t really happy with us offensively tonight. I didn’t think we moved the ball a lot. And then I thought we were careless with the ball at times as well. But you know, I’ll take the win.” To be fair, the Clippers average 13.9 turnovers per game, so they came in under that. But again, this was against a Bucks team that came in 44 games under .500 at 13-57.

- It was the second game in succession where the Clippers had trouble putting away a far inferior team. It was the same way Saturday when the Pistons hung around until they were defeated 112-103 after trailing by just a point at halftime. Perhaps this is not a good thing. Then again, Chris Paul realizes not every can be wonderful: “I mean, you always want to play well, but you want to win well. It’s not going to be pretty every night. Tonight it was, do whatever you have to do to win.”

- The victory was the Clippers’ 50th of the season. It’s the second consecutive year in which they have reached that plateau. But it won’t mean a thing if they don’t get a chance to play for that ring, said Matt Barnes: “It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t advance in the playoffs. This team has come a long way, but we’re not into moral victories, we’re not taking winning-streak victories, we want to advance and we know we have a good enough team to win a championship.”

- Darren Collison, in his second game back after missing back-to-back games with a stomach virus, had a terrific overall game. He scored 15 points, made 5 of 9 from the field, 3 of 4 from 3-point range. In addition, he had six assists and zero turnovers and even blocked a shot.

- As uncool as it might have been for the Clippers to have struggled so mightily to beat the lowly Bucks, it could have been much worse. Had they lost that game, and that was a real possibility as they led by just four points with 3:24 to play, that could have been disastrous heading out for a five-game road trip. The psyche is a delicate thing. At least they won.

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Blake Griffin likes being on the same team as point guard Chris Paul

Chris Paul had 15 assists in Saturday’s 112-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center. The 6,000th of his career went to Blake Griffin late in the first quarter.

Afterward, there was a lot of talk about Paul’s milestone, including some from Griffin.

“It says a lot about him,” Griffin said. “That’s a great accomplishment and, obviously, he still has a lot more left to do. But it’s fun playing with a guy that makes the game easier for you like that.”

 

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Complimentary Doc Rivers calls his talented team ‘a working group’

One of the topics of discussion at Thursday’s practice was the two days off the team received from coach Doc Rivers. In other words, no mandatory practice Tuesday and Wednesday.

Chris Paul told reporters he liked having the time to spend with his family. Rivers agreed that’s a big deal.

“I think it’s important,” Rivers said.

That doesn’t mean the players stay completely away, however, and Rivers likes that.

“I think every team’s different,” he said. “I mean, I think in most cases even on the days off most guys work out anyway; they’re going to do something. This group has been very good at that. … I would say 95 percent of them come in and get work in. We have one of those groups. It’s a working group.

“We don’t really have any slackers, other than some of you guys.”

He got a laugh out of reporters..

“No, no, really, it’s a good group,” he said. “And it’s a little surprising for me because they’re young and sometimes the young guys, you’ve gotta tell them. This is not one of those groups, and that’s nice.”

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Chris Paul is quite the helper, but has a long way to go to catch all-time leaders

Point guard Chris Paul is averaging a league-high 10.9 assists this season. That is absolutely terrific, and there is no question he is headed toward an eventual date with the Hall of Fame.

But the 28-year-old out of Wake Forest has a long way to go to catch those in front of him on the all-time leader board. He has 5,996 assists overall, which puts him in 27th place. The leader is John Stockton, who had 15,806 over 19 seasons. He is well ahead of second-place Jason Kidd’s 12,091. Paul will climb much higher on that ladder before he’s done, but it will be all but impossible to catch Stockton.

Average-wise, Paul is in much better position. He is averaging 9.9. That is third all-time behind Magic Johnson (11.1) and Stockton (10.5). Johnson, by the way, is fifth in total assists with 10,141 in 13 seasons.

Paul is currently in his ninth season.

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‘Dastardly’ Denver Nuggets once again halt a long Clippers winning streak

By now Clippers fans might rather refer to them as the “Dastardly” Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets on Monday defeated the visiting Clippers 110-100 to snap an 11-game Clippers winning streak. On New Years Day 2013, the Nuggets halted the Clippers’ 17-game winning streak with a 92-78 victory.

This time it was a 14-2 run down the stretch that fueled Denver to victory. Chris Paul led the Clippers (48-21) with 29 points, Blake Griffin had 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Ty Lawson led the Nuggets (30-37) with 19 points.

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Chris Paul tweaks sore ankle in second quarter at Denver, but stays in the game

Clippers guard Chris Paul rolled his sore left ankle in the second quarter at Denver on Monday night, but he stayed in the game and has a game-high 20 points at halftime.

The host Nuggets lead 56-53 at the break as the Clippers try to win their 12th game in succession.

The game is being televised by ESPN and Prime Ticket.

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Chris Paul sits out fourth straight as Eric Bledsoe learns on the job

Chris Paul sat out Sunday for the fourth consecutive game and for the seventh time in nine contests because of a bruised right kneecap, which meant Eric Bledsoe replaced him as the Clippers’ starting point guard for the fourth straight game and the seventh time in nine contests.

It’s uncertain when Paul will be sound enough to practice or play, with coach Vinny Del Negro saying there was no timetable for his return to active duty. Paul was injured when he knocked knees with J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic on Jan. 12.

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Clippers knock off Nuggets, rise to No. 1 overall in the standings

First at last. The Clippers have been the NBA’s hottest team for days and weeks now. They finally moved atop the league’s overall standings with a resounding 112-100 victory Tuesday night over the Denver Nuggets in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 19,346 at Staples Center.

The victory extended the Clippers’ franchise-record winning streak to 14 games and they improved their overall mark to 22-6, a half-game better than second-place Oklahoma City. The Thunder (21-6) lost earlier in the day to the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

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Chris Paul honored as Western Conference player of the week

Point guard Chris Paul was named the Western Conference player of the week after averaging 16.3 points, 11.3 assists and 3.5 steals during the Clippers’ victories over Detroit, New Orleans, Sacramento and Phoenix. He had double-doubles in three games.

Paul sparked the Clippers’ blowout of the Suns by scoring 16 points and adding 13 assists and five steals Sunday. It was the second consecutive game in which he recorded five steals following the Clippers’ win Friday over Sacramento.

What’s more, he reached the 5,000-assist milestone for his career during the first half of the Clippers’ win last Wednesday over the Hornets, his old team. He finished with 12 assists in the game, but did not play in the fourth quarter of a 93-77 victory.

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Clippers tie a franchise record and Chris Paul hits a milestone

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling led his team with old-fashioned cheers of “Hip-Hip-Hooray,” but there were no bottles of champagne in the locker room after their 93-77 victory Wednesday over the New Orleans Hornets extended their winning streak to a franchise-record tying 11 games.

In fact, Sterling’s unusual postgame visit to congratulate the team was the only semblance of a celebration of the streak. After all, the Clippers (19-6) have greater goals in mind than matching the modest success of their ancient cousins, the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves.

“We can’t be satisfied,” point guard Chris Paul later said of the streak. “It’s great for the fans, but we can’t be satisfied. Food tastes better, music sounds better, you sleep a little better, everything is better when you’re winning. We’ve just got to keep it going.”

The Clippers will try for a franchise-record 12th straight victory when they play host to the Sacramento Kings on Friday. It’s not a streak to challenge the Lakers’ league-record mark of 33 consecutive wins, but given the team’s inglorious history, it’s something to build upon.

Then again, maybe it’s not.

“We don’t talk about the winning streak,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “It’s almost irrelevant. It’s about our enthusiasm. It’s like I tell our guys, ‘Trust your eyes, you know when you’re playing the right way.’ It’s about locking in and being focused on what we’re trying to do.”

The Clippers haven’t lost since the Hornets defeated the Nov. 26. They’ve won easily, with their starters resting for the fourth quarters of games. They’ve won a few close ones, too. They’ve won when they’ve played well from start to finish and when they’ve had their ups and downs.

Wednesday’s victory was never in doubt after the Clippers took a double-digit lead in the second quarter. They led by as many as 19 points in the third quarter and by as many as 24 in the fourth, when all of their starters except Willie Green sat and cheered for the second unit.

Paul scored 10 points and recorded the 5,000th assist of his career with the ninth of his team-leading 12 on Wednesday, a ho-hum pass to Blake Griffin for a layup and a 45-30 lead for the Clippers with 1 minute, 32 seconds remaining in the first half. Griffin was fouled and sank the free throw.

Many fans among the sellout crowd of 19,188 gave Paul a standing ovation when his milestone assist was announced on the video screens on the arena’s giant overhanging scoreboard. Some then began to chant, “CP3, CP3, CP3” Paul’s nickname.

“Oh man, it’s pretty cool,” Paul said of reaching the milestone. “I didn’t know what everyone was cheering for. Seriously. I was talking to Blake and I asked him what was going on. It’s pretty cool, especially to do it here in front of our home crowd.”

Paul then turned to Griffin and asked, “What did that mean to you?”

“He came to me and told me he needed one more,” Griffin joked as Paul, seated next to him during their customary postgame press conference, laughed heartily. “He told me, You’ve got to get fouled so the crowd can acknowledge me.”

Then adopting a more serious tone after the laughter of Paul and a room filled with reporters died down somewhat, Griffin added, “It’s cool to be a part of the end of that. It’s one of thousands, obviously. That’s definitely not the last. I’m looking forward to 10,000.”

Griffin scored a team-leading 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting and Jamal Crawford added 17 points on 6-for-14 shooting and five assists in a reserve role. DeAndre Jordan added 12 points and Matt Barnes scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds.

Robin Lopez scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Hornets, who lost their ninth consecutive game. Lopez scored 14 of the Hornets’ first 16 points, underscoring their lack of depth in facing a team with perhaps the best second unit in the NBA. Rookie forward Anthony Davis added 16 for New Orleans (5-20).

 

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