This was the spot of happy times for the Clippers last season. Blake Griffin and Austin Rivers mimicked each other's style of play during a morning shoot-around, with video of Griffin's spoof going viral before a laugher against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The joke was almost on the Clippers on Monday night.
They looked slow and ragged against the worst team in the NBA, trailing by as many as 19 points, before something even more improbable happened. The Clippers forced overtime and prevailed in a game they led for only 13 seconds in regulation, edging the 76ers, 98-92, at the Wells Fargo Center.
J.J. Redick came around a DeAndre Jordan screen on a misdirection play to make a tying three-pointer with 10 seconds left in regulation and the Clippers scored the first eight points of overtime.
"Execution is what makes great teams great, and right there we started executing," said Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who had 19 points and seven assists.
Redick and Jamal Crawford scored 23 points apiece for the Clippers (35-17), who faced the prospect of a second bad defeat in six days after losing at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves. They allowed 59 points in the first half, making Coach Doc Rivers look prophetic after he had said before the game that his team could lose to anyone if it played poorly.
"We were just kind of out there, just moving around, not really talking at all," said Jordan, who finished with 21 rebounds, 12 points and three blocks. "We didn't play with force. We let them catch it wherever they wanted to, they connected the dots passing the basketball. We didn't box out, we weren't physical."
Jordan said Doc Rivers and assistant coach Lawrence Frank had some "constructive criticism" for the Clippers at halftime, which sparked a defensive resurgence.
Philadelphia scored only 29 points in the second half and four in the overtime. What was the difference in the Clippers' defense?
"We played it," Jordan said. "We actually played defense."
Jerami Grant scored 17 points off the bench for the 76ers (8-44), who missed a chance to win the game at the end of regulation when Jahlil Okafor couldn't connect on a jumper.
Doc Rivers said he figured the basketball gods were imposing their will on a night the Clippers shot only 36.8% when Crawford's three-point attempt with 48 seconds left in regulation rimmed out, leaving the Clippers down by four points. But Jordan grabbed the rebound and was fouled, making one of two free throws to cut the 76ers' lead to 88-85.
And so there were happy times again for the Clippers even with Paul Pierce given the night off to rest and Griffin and Austin Rivers both back in Los Angeles with broken hands. The Clippers are 18-4 since Griffin played his last game on Christmas and 3-0 since Rivers was injured against Minnesota.
They're also 3-0 on a trip that ends Wednesday in Boston for their final game before the All-Star break. Doc Rivers said before the game that he wanted to depart Philadelphia as soon as possible to beat an approaching snowstorm and get to Boston, where he could feast on lobster rolls at his beloved Neptune Oyster.
"It's the best lobster rolls in the world," the former Celtics coach said. "I'm buying, if you can find me."