- It was of course great to see Jamal Crawford back out there. Even better was that he hit two clutch 3-point baskets to help his team pull away for the 117-101 victory over a poor yet stubborn Kings team on Saturday.
- Yes, it was the franchise-tying 56th victory of the season for the Clippers. That’s all good, but that won’t mean much of the Clippers don’t advance past the first round of the playoffs.
- Unless something weird happens, DeAndre Jordan is about a lock to finish as the NBA’s regular-season leader in field goal percentage and rebounding. He is currently averaging 13.7 rebounds, ahead of second-place Andre Drummond of Detroit (13.2). With his 9-for-13 performance against the Kings, he’s now shooting 67.5 percent from the field; Drummond is second at 62.5. Only two other players have ever led the league in both categories – Wilt Chamberlain (8 times) and Dwight Howard.
- That said, Jordan needs to improve his free-throw shooting. That’s not news. But he was just 3 of 11 against the Kings, dropping his season average to 43.4 percent. It’s true that he was even worse last season – 38.6 percent – but still, he’s gotta get better there. He’s shooting 42.7 percent in his six years in the league.
- We say this a lot, but man oh man, you have got to love the way Blake Griffin plays. The man is a beast, but he’s also become a great passer. He had nine assists against the Kings, and some of them were beautiful things to see.
- Look for the Goran Dragic-led Suns to give an inspiring effort. As of right now they are tied with Memphis for the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings. Ninth-place Dallas is only a half-game behind those two. Phoenix and Memphis are both 44-30 and have eight games left each. Dallas is 44-31 with seven games remaining.
- Look for Chris Paul to continue his terrific play. The Clippers are 3-1 on this road trip. In the game they lost – March 26 at New Orleans – Paul was 0 of 12 from the field and scored just two points. In successive victories over Dallas, Houston and Minnesota, he has scored 31, 30 and 22 points with 30 assists.
- Expect another heavy rebounding night from DeAndre Jordan, who seems to be getting stronger and even more dynamic as the regular season nears an end. Not only is he leading the NBA in rebounding with a 13.9 average, check this out: he has 67 rebounds on the road trip. That’s a 16.7 average. He had 24 Monday at Minnesota.
- If Blake Griffin is out again because of his back, expect Jared Dudley to again be a capable replacement. Keep in mind that even though he did not play Monday, Griffin did dress, meaning he wasn’t that far from being able to go. If Jamal Crawford (calf) also misses his second consecutive game, that could be a lot to deal with against a team fighting for it’s playoff life.
- If Griffin and Crawford play and are at least close to being reasonably healthy, the Clippers win this game going away because they are rolling right now. Even without those two they could win because along with Paul and Jordan, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison have been heavy contributors.
- Prior to Monday’s victory at Minnesota, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin were first and fourth in the league in dunks. Jordan had 218, Griffin 158 (Griffin did not play against the T’Wolves because of back spasms).
- The Clippers have sold out 130 consecutive home games, sixth best in the league. The Mavericks lead the way with 565 and the Miami Heat are second with 182. These numbers include regular-season and playoff games. The Clippers return home Thursday to take on the Mavericks.
- And this, from ESPN.com: At 53-22, the Clippers are more than 30 games over .500 for the first time in the 44-year history of the franchise.
- It was smart for the Clippers (53-22) to hold Blake Griffin out of this game. He is arguably the team’s best player – though fans of Chris Paul may debate that – and there was no use risking not having a healthy Griffin for the post-season, which is just around the corner.
- Big-time kudos to Jared Dudley, who started in place of Griffin and came through with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists. Dudley shot 6 of 10 from the field, 2 of 3 from 3-point range.
- Jamal Crawford, who had recently missed eight out of nine games, was back on the bench with what was described as a calf injury in an Associated Press story on the game. A strained left calf was why Crawford missed those aforementioned games before playing in five consecutive games ahead of Monday.
- DeAndre Jordan had a career-high 24 rebounds. Dude is just a beast. He also had 11 points and four blocks. However, showing he’s not perfect, Jordan also had five of the team’s 18 turnovers.
- Darren Collison had a terrific night shooting the ball. He was 9 of 17 from the field – 2 of 3 from 3-point range – and he made all eight of his free throws for a game-high 28 points. Picking up the offense like that when the team’s leading scorer (Griffin) is out is nothing but positive. Collison did have six turnovers to go with seven assists, but he also played 43 minutes. The points, minutes and turnovers were season-highs.
Next up, Wednesday at Phoenix.
Despite having Blake Griffin for only six minutes, the Clippers on Saturday defeated the host Houston Rockets 118-107 at Toyota Center.
Griffin went out in the first quarter with back spasms. He did not return. Also, reserve Glen “Big Baby” Davis was sent to the locker room in the second quarter by coach Doc Rivers following a verbal confrontation between the two near the Clippers’ bench. He, too, did not return.
Chris Paul led the Clippers, who clinched a playoff berth, with 30 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals and only one turnover in 39 minutes.
DeAndre Jordan contributed 20 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks for Los Angeles. He did not have to face Rockets center Dwight Howard, out with a sore ankle.
Matt Barnes, who hit a big 3-point shot down the stretch for a 10-point lead, had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
James Harden led the Rockets (49-23) with 32 points and Chandler Parsons scored 28.
The Clippers (52-22) moved two games up on Houston in the Western Conference standings.
Next up, Monday at Minnesota.
Just a quick look at how the two big fellas have fared for the Rockets and Clippers in their first three games – all won by the Clippers – ahead of Saturday’s game between the teams at Houston. Prime Ticket will televise at 5 p.m.
In the first game Nov. 4 at Staples Center, DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, who won 137-118. Dwight Howard went for 13 and nine.
In the second game Nov. 9 at Houston, Jordan had 12 points and 18 rebounds for the Clippers, who won 107-94. Howard went for 21 and eight for the Rockets.
Then, Feb. 26, Jordan scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 10-93 Clippers’ victory at Staples Center. Howard had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Jordan has the clear advantage in blocks with eight in the three games to four for Howard.
The third-place Clippers (51-22) are a game ahead of Houston in the Western Conference. The Clippers have nine games remaining, Houston 11.
It should be noted that Howard had recently missed three games with a sore left ankle. He has played in two consecutive games, but he told the Houston Chronicle after Thursday’s victory over Philadelphia that his ankle was sore.
- Thursday’s rally from down double digits in the fourth quarter was the third time the Clippers have done that to the Mavericks this season. Thursday’s final was 109-103. In the other two, Los Angeles emerged by scores of 119-112 and 129-127.
- Superstars like Chris Paul don’t stay down long. He missed all 12 of his field goal attempts in Wednesday’s surprising loss at New Orleans. On Thursday he was 9 of 18 overall, 4 of 8 from 3-point range for a game-high 31 points. Enough said on that.
- Any time a team shows the wherewithal the Clippers showed Thursday, that makes playoff opponents take notice. They know the Clippers have heart, and that can be worrisome to said opponent.
- DeAndre Jordan averages 2.38 blocks as of this writing. He had a rare no-block game against Dallas. But when you score 16 points and grab 15 rebounds, it’s all good. Man, Jordan has been a beast this year. He’s now averaging a league-best 13.7 rebounds.
- Other than Jamal Crawford, who had 14 points, the bench contributed very little. Then again, other than Crawford – who played 28 minutes – no one really played enough minutes to get into a rhythm. Jared Dudley and Danny Granger each played 10 minutes, but the other two players who saw time played a combined 11 minutes. The five starters played 40, 38, 38, 40 and 25 (Darren Collison) minutes.
Next up, Saturday at Houston.
The Clippers on Thursday rallied from an 11-point deficit to outscore the host Dallas Mavericks by 17 points down the stretch to come away with a 109-103 victory. It was a huge win for the Clippers for two reasons: they had just come off a rather stunning loss at New Orleans a night earlier, and Chris Paul scored 31 points after scoring just two at New Orleans and missing all 12 of his field goal attempts.
Paul made 9 of 18 from the field, 4 of 8 from 3-point range. The team made 11 of 26 3-point attempts for 42.3 percent.
Blake Griffin scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, DeAndre Jordan went for 16 points and 15 rebounds and Jamal Crawford had 14 points. Counting 12 points from Matt Barnes and 11 from Darren Collison, the Clippers had six players score in double figures.
Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points for Dallas (43-30), which is a half game behind Phoenix for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Each time had three players get technical fouls.
The Clippers (51-22) are third in the Western Conference behind front-running San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
Next stop on the five-game road trip is Houston on Saturday.
DeAndre Jordan has 169 blocked shots this season. That’s 27 more than his previous best of 142 in the 2010-11 season, and there are still 12 games left in the regular season. His average of 2.4 is third best in the league.
Jordan is also averaging a league-high 13.7 rebounds. His previous best was 8.3 in 2011-12.
Teammate Jamal Crawford, for one, can’t say enough about the 6-foot-11 Jordan.
“He’s the defensive player of the year,” Crawford said at Monday’s shoot-around ahead of the Clippers’ game against the Milwaukee Bucks at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center. “He’s unbelievable. I mean, sometimes we’ll get beat and we’ll look up in the air, and we know he’s there.
“I mean, it’s not a good thing to have, but I guess it is a good thing to have in that respect. I think his impact on defense has been as good or better than anyone else in the league.”