The Clippers’ schedule is less than daunting over the next few weeks, putting them in position to make a move in the Western Conference standings.
But even with help on the way, the Clippers knowing that Blake Griffin might be able to play against the Lakers on Friday night after sitting out 14 games because of a knee injury, they still must compete no matter the opposition.
Their 122-95 romp over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night at Staples Center was the first of seven games against teams with sub-.500 records over a 10-game stretch.
It was an easy win for the Clippers, who dropped 71 points on the Kings in the first half, the most points they’ve scored in the first 24 minutes of a game this season.
“Tonight was a huge game, a huge game,” Austin Rivers said. “We needed to win. We need every win. So we can’t just show up and play. That’s how you drop games.
“We’re not in position where we can drop games, or else we’ll get further and further behind. We don’t want to be playing catch-up the whole season.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Clippers, who at 14-19 stand 10th in the Western Conference, three games out of eighth.
The Clippers had 31 assists on 44 made shots.
They made 55% of their shots, 13 of 31 (41.9%) from beyond the three-point arc.
“Actually, I just liked how hard we played, honestly,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
It was easy to enjoy watching rookie Milos Teodosic produce a career-high 10 assists, matching a Clippers season high.
It was fun to see Jamil Wilson, who is on a two-way contract, score a career-high 17 points on six-for-nine shooting, five-for-seven on three-pointers.
It was nice seeing DeAndre Jordan produce another double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds in only 26 minutes.
It was good to see reserves Lou Williams (21 points), Montrezl Harrell (season-high 22 points) and Sam Dekker (10 points and six rebounds) provide a lift.
“We try to put an emphasis on playing harder than most teams,” Wilson said. “I know Doc tries to use that as one of our main talents, just to play harder than other teams.
“We still have guys out. Guys are just going to have to step up.”
The Clippers will play the Kings (11-22) two more times during their next 10 games.
They’ll also face the Atlanta Hawks, who at 8-25 own the NBA’s worst record.
The only teams with winning records they’ll face are the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors, who they’ll play twice, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Moreover, the Clippers will play only three games on the road during the stretch, and they won’t leave California.
One of the “road” games is against the Lakers at Staples Center, the other two at Golden State and Sacramento on consecutive nights.
“It’s not easy to get a win,” Jordan said. “It’s hard as hell to get a win in the NBA, man.
“We came out at the beginning of the game a little sluggish, but that was on us. We came out in the second quarter with a different kind of intensity and mind-set that we wanted to be physical and attack the glass.”