Clippers excel on road, making negative energy work for them in 25 wins

Clippers excel on road, making negative energy work for them in 25 wins
Clippers forwards Matt Barnes, left, and Blake Griffin screen out Lakers forward Tarik Black in the first half. (Michael Nelson / EPA)

Blake Griffin said that in order to be a great team, players have to be motivated by two distinct energies.

"At home, you try to feed off the positive energy, and on the road, you try and feed off of the negative energy," Griffin said.


The Clippers have excelled in the latter this season, setting a franchise record Sunday evening for wins on the road, their 25th, a 106-78 victory over the Lakers.

They set the tone early this season, going 6-1 on their first long road trip, and recently put an exclamation mark on their away efforts when they came back from a 19-point deficit to beat the Trail Blazers on April 1, 126-122.

The Clippers' statistics have been nearly identical at home and on the road. They're shooting 47.2% from the field at home; 47.5% on the road. From beyond the three-point line, they're shooting 37.9% both at home and on the road. From the free-throw line, they're shooting 70.7% at home; 70.9% on the road. They're averaging 43.4 rebounds at home; 41.6 on the road. They're averaging 26.2 assists at home; 23.4 on the road.

Griffin said the team almost has started to enjoy visiting an arena and feeling the crowd's negativity.

"We were talking about it on the bus [Saturday evening], or on the plane, somewhere; it's kind of cool playing on the road because you know everybody is against you for the most part, and it's fun to have that mentality," Griffin said. "I'm glad we've taken on that mentality."

The Clippers (52-26) are in fifth place in the Western Conference, 1 1/2 games behind the second-place Houston Rockets with four games remaining in the regular season, including one road game on April 14 against the Phoenix Suns.

The team has never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs and is hoping its road success might make a difference this time around.

"Doc even said it last year," Chris Paul said of Clippers Coach Doc Rivers. "He said at some point in the playoffs, if you're really trying to make a run for the championship, you're going to lose at home, and you've got to be able to win on the road."

Last year in the postseason, the Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors in a chippy first-round, seven-game series before losing to Oklahoma City in the second round in six games.

"Those are two of the toughest places to play in the regular season, even more so in the playoffs in terms of crowd noise and atmosphere," J.J. Redick said. "This year that stuff helps going into the playoffs, now having had that experience."

Crawford back?

Jamal Crawford, who has sat out more than a month because of a deep right calf bruise, is probable for Tuesday's game against the Lakers.

The reigning sixth man of the year was averaging 16.4 points on 40.1% shooting before the injury, which he sustained in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 2.

"We're going to have a shoot-around [Tuesday] and run him around a little bit, and we'll see," Rivers said. "I would say he's probable, but I'm not going to say he definitely will [play] Tuesday."


Clippers streaking

The Clippers have won six in a row over the Lakers, their longest winning streak in the history of the rivalry.

When the teams played Sunday evening, the Clippers led by as many as 43 points before finishing with a 28-point victory. The Lakers' 78 points was the least they've scored in the rivalry.

The Clippers have won the last six by an average of 26.6 points, including a 142-94 win on March 6 of last year, when the Clippers dealt the Lakers their worst loss in franchise history.