It is the holiday season of gift-giving. So it was fitting that Wednesday night at
Going into the game, the Clippers had won five in a row, four of them on a recent trip in which they went 6-1.
It's probably too early in the season to talk about such things — and Coach
"I don't even want to think about that. I don't think about it," a laughing Rivers said before the game.
That prompted a discussion about the psychology involved in coaching in the NBA, in which the season doesn't just seem to go on forever. It does.
"You keep fixing yourself all season," Rivers said. "We need to be better every game. If we are the same in Game 82 [end of the regular season] as we are now, we are in trouble.
"With the players, even when you are winning, you want them to feel they are great, but that they can be greater."
The next 11 games after Wednesday night's encounter with the
Wins leading up to that one, and another one over the
But, oh my, what an encounter that could be. If they somehow keep the streak alive, the Warriors could be No. 18 straight, a team record-breaker.
That would be quite a stocking-stuffer for
Of course, that's putting the cart way before the horse. But it is fun to speculate, because this is one of the more explosive offensive teams in the league. When the Clippers get going, they are the ultimate runaway train.
First of all, they needed No. 6 in a row Wednesday night, and the NBA schedule-maker smiled down.
The Magic, not an especially good team anyway, came to town in the middle of a six-game trip. They entered the game 1-2 on that trip, and 7-13 overall. They also entered with three injured players — Aaron Gordon with a broken left foot, Devyn Marble with a rotator cuff injury and
Starting in place of Vucevic was 6-10
That resulted in a Flagrant 2 foul, ruled on after a long delay for a TV review. O'Quinn was tossed out of the game and the Magic, already in the midst of having the Clippers run them ragged, had no center.
Nor, it seemed, did they have any gas left. They had, admirably, cut the Clippers' lead to three points at that stage. But the foul shots and ensuing possession because of the flagrant foul, plus
The final score was a 114-86 thrashing.
For Orlando, all this also came against a backdrop of a game against the Warriors less than 24 hours earlier in Oakland, where they played a great game and lost in the final seconds when the NBA's new Pistol Pete,
You almost felt sorry for the Magic — as sorry as you can feel for guys making millions to play basketball.
Even Rivers had some pregame sympathy.
"I watched the game," he said, "and I'm still trying to figure out how they didn't win."
That prompted the question: Do teams such as the Magic, after a devastating loss and having to play a back-to-back on the road, come to the arena down in the dumps or angry and fired up to win?
"I'm hoping the former," Rivers said.
He got his wish.
The Clippers started 18-3, and 20-5. Any time the Magic got near the basket in the early going,
It was an unfair fight, and the 151st consecutive Clippers sellout crowd at Staples loved it. With six minutes left in the final period and the Clippers leading, 101-74, the crowd did the Wave.
Talk about piling on.
Griffin had 21, Redick had 20, Chris Paul had 19 and Jordan had 16 rebounds. The Magic stats were less impressive, including Elfrid Payton's free-throw shooting. At one point in the first half, he had gone 0-6 from the line. With consecutive airballs.
It is not all bad news for Orlando. It has a day off before it travels to games Friday night at Utah and Saturday at Sacramento.
More good news. Orlando won't play the Clippers again this season, barring an unlikely playoff matchup. The Clippers also won in Orlando, Nov. 19. That score was 114-90.
That's a two-game point differential of 228-176. Little Magic there.