What's the best way to stay competitive in the NBA's Western Conference?
Play as many teams as possible from the East.
It's a formula the Clippers have used to their advantage recently, a 114-86 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night at Staples Center the latest evidence of the massive imbalance between conferences.
Blake Griffin was strong across the board with 21 points, eight rebounds and six assists and J.J. Redick contributed 20 points for the Clippers, whose sixth consecutive triumph almost seemed like a function of their schedule. They have won eight of their last nine games, going 5-0 against teams from the East.
They will be sad to know that their next two games are against New Orleans and Phoenix, both of whom reside in the far more cutthroat conference.
Then again, it may not matter considering the way they've played lately.
"We are becoming more and more comfortable with exactly who we are as a team," Griffin said.
Chris Paul continued to masterfully orchestrate the Clippers' offense, finding the perfect balance between shooting and passing. He finished with 19 points on seven-for-10 shooting to go with 10 assists.
Griffin shrugged off a smack to the face in the second quarter that earned Orlando's Kyle O'Quinn a flagrant 2 foul and ejection, scoring the next three points to help the Clippers build a 13-point halftime lead.
"I got hit in the face, but honestly, I didn't think it was going to be a flagrant 2," Griffin said. "I don't think it was vicious or anything like that."
DeAndre Jordan was a study in effort, tapping three loose balls to his teammates on the perimeter. The Clippers scored on all three possessions and Jordan finished with 16 rebounds.
Redick contributed a second consecutive strong game, making seven of 11 shots and four of seven three-pointers to nudge his early season struggles further into the background. The Clippers are 8-1 when Redick scores at least 14 points.
The Clippers starters combined to make 32 of 51 shots, an astonishing 62.7%.
"It's very tough to guard," Paul said. "You don't know who's going to score, who's going to shoot, the way we're sharing the ball. It's just a fun way to play."
None of the Clippers starters played during a fourth quarter in which fans entertained themselves by breaking out the wave. For the record, team owner Steve Ballmer participated.
Eyes tend to roll when NBA players talk about every game counting, but in the West the concept is legitimate. The top eight teams in the conference entered the day with a collective 36-game winning streak.
Even with their longest winning streak of the season, the Clippers (13-5) have only moved into a tie with the San Antonio Spurs for sixth place in the West standings. The flip side is they're only 21/2 games behind conference-leading Golden State.
"The East doesn't matter to us," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, "but in the West you've got to win games."
Tobias Harris had 16 points for Orlando, which was predictably flat on the second night of a back-to-back after falling to the Warriors by a point in the final seconds Tuesday. The Magic has lost its two games against the Clippers by a combined 52 points.