They would prefer to hoist a more meaningful piece of fabric, of course, but a third consecutive division title might hold extra significance this season.
Golden State has the best record in the
That's when the Clippers increased their level of chatter, emerging with a convincing 120-100 victory at
Talking things out has been a theme throughout a four-game winning streak in which the Clippers have held their opponents to an average of 96 points per game.
"Our defense has been better because our communication is better," said forward Blake Griffin, who had 23 points. "The more we talk, the better we are. It's not just talk, like, 'I got your back, I got your back.' It's directing people and people just listening. They don't second-guess it, so it's trust."
The Clippers (30-14) were equally unafraid to compliment or critique one another Sunday, with the snippy exchanges equaling the high-fives. Both were warranted during a game in which the Clippers surrendered 41 points in the second quarter before shackling the Suns during a 15-0 run midway through the fourth quarter.
"I called glass in my head," Jordan said dryly. "They were all straight, I just put a little more oomph on it."
Jordan made all five of his field-goal attempts, continuing a six-game tear in which he has made 38 of 43 shots (88.4%), and finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks.
The latter number seemed like a misprint to Suns Coach Jeff Hornacek.
"The stats say he had four" blocks, Hornacek said. "That can't be right, it seemed like he had 14."
"Guys are telling each other the truth on the bench," Coach
Said Griffin: "We see it as guys caring and there being a lot of passion, which we definitely have a lot of. I think it's a good thing."
Rivers said he viewed the game as the start of a 10-game trip because his team returned to Los Angeles late Sunday before playing the
The Clippers realize the talk therapy that helped them against the Suns could become divisive under less desirable conditions. The trick is to not let that happen.
"It's not going to be like this for every game the rest of the season," Paul said. "I think the biggest test is going to be when it's not clicking like it is tonight to make sure we stay together."