Here are five takeaways from the Clippers’ 126-105 win over the Kings at Staples Center:
1. The Clippers are best when they’re unselfish. Eight of the 10 Clippers who played against Sacramento scored in double figures, and coach Doc Rivers liked the ball movement that made that possible.
“It’s the key to basketball,” he said. “The reason guys are comfortable scoring, shooting is because they actually touch the ball. Sometimes just moving and passing, you can feel more comfortable. So when it’s time to shoot, you’ve touched the ball. I think it’s hard to play basketball when you never touch it and then someone slings it to you. To me, I think that’s the key to our offense.”
2. The Clippers’ season-long struggle with injuries may have an upside. With nine players having missed more than 120 games combined this season, extra minutes have been available for players such as Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker and Willie Reed. So when the regulars come back, they’ll have a deep, experienced bench behind them.
“I always try to find the good in each situation,” forward Blake Griffin said. “The confidence and the amount of reps that the guys are getting early on in the season, these guys are getting a lot of time and a lot of experience and it will help us down the line.”
3. The Clippers are hotter than they’ve been all season. Yes, their last two wins have come against a Sacramento team they’ve beaten four times already this season. But last week they also beat Golden State for the first time since 2014, part of a streak that has seen them match a season high with four straight victories to climb back to .500 for the first time in two months.
The Clippers have also won eight of 10 games for the first time since the end of last season, and during that streak they’ve averaged 116.5 points a game.
4. Despite the injuries and a slump that saw the team struggle mightily in the season’s first two months, the Clippers are having fun. Even Griffin, after a game that saw him saw score just 11 points, his fewest since March in a game in which he played more than 10 minutes, was all smiles.
“I’ve had a blast this year,” he said. “The team really bonds well with each other. We just play hard. We put guys in, guys are hurt, guys are injured, guys are out, we just play hard. This is a really fun team, and we have kind of a special bond.”
5. Although Willie Reed had a season-best game (14 points, 13 rebounds) in place of the injured DeAndre Jordan, Rivers promised Jordan would be back in the lineup when he sprained left ankle heals.
“I’m sure of that!” he said Saturday.
But he may face a harder decision with Lou Williams when C.J. Williams (right ankle) and Austin Rivers (right ankle) come back. Williams scored a game-high 26 points against the Kings and has averaged 31.1 points in his last 12 games, leading the Clippers in scoring in the last eight games.