Their disjointed play at the start of the season was reflected in a 5-4 record. They then righted themselves with a spectacular 11-1 run, which included a 6-1 trip and the foundation of the seven-game home winning streak they took into Thursday's game against
It was inevitable that they'd cool off, but they went beyond that to cold, losing five of eight games before rallying for an impossible-to-analyze 100-86 comeback victory over the Warriors on Thursday to launch a nine-game homestand and end a stretch of five games in seven nights in five cities.
Their performance Thursday was as inconsistent as their season has been as a whole.
The Warriors, who sat in Los Angeles all week after their bad loss to the Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday, seemed determined to erase the memory of that defeat and nearly ran the Clippers off the floor in the early going. After
That lead grew to 20 in the fourth quarter as the team that couldn't hit anything in the first quarter suddenly couldn't miss. Here's confirmation of how strange this game was: The Clippers were the better team at the free throw line, outshooting the Warriors, 74.2% to 54.5%.
All of which leads to one question:
Will the Clippers zig next, or will they zag? Will they take off on a winning streak or continue to go sideways, getting little scoring from their second unit and inconsistent defensive efforts throughout the lineup?
One win doesn't solve all of their problems, even if it was an entertaining and improbable victory over the league-leading Warriors (23-5). Jamal Crawford was the Clippers' only effective player off the bench Thursday — once again — as he scored a game-high 24 points. And they still have work to do defensively, even though they held Golden State to its lowest point total this season.
But this was fun, more amusing even than
During his pregame news conference, Coach
But it was a little easier to see his point after the Clippers' comeback, after they had to fight for something they wanted and overcame a terrible start, horrible shooting night and the distractions of holiday celebrations to get it.
As exhilarating as it was, Rivers brushed off suggestions that this might prove to be a confidence booster for his team. "We believe we're good anyway," he said. Nor would he call this their best win this season.
"I couldn't tell you who we've beaten," he said. "Yeah, I guess. I don't judge wins It's still nice to beat them. They're good."
Sometimes, teams come together quickly. Other times, they need 20 or 30 or more games to bond and find their footing.
"This team has clearly been one of the gradual-growth teams," he said. "You've just got to ride it."
On Thursday, they rode it to a win that made for great drama. Whether it starts another zig-zag, this time upward, will be up to the Clippers the next few games.