The Clippers took their traveling party to South Beach on Thursday and thoroughly enjoyed a 110-93 romp over the Miami Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena. Here are five takeaways after the Clippers improved to 2-0 on their seven-game trip that continues Sunday in Memphis, Tenn.:
1. Blake Griffin showed that he is a skilled mixologist. There were dunks, driving layups and jumpers, the Clippers forward blending his shots perhaps more effectively than he had all season. He finished with 26 points, making 12 of 18 shots, and showed that he can be practically unstoppable when his outside shots are falling.
2. DeAndre Jordan can dunk … among many other things. The Clippers center scored all 12 of his points on dunks, but that was just a sliver of what he did. He had 11 rebounds and continued to alter shots with his strong defensive presence. “All he wants to do is go get it, meaning he blocks shots and rebounds,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “Every team would love a guy like that. … I don’t know if there’s a better defensive player in this league.”
3. Jamal Crawford was in a sharing mood. The shooting guard looked more like he was trying to outdo Chris Paul while compiling nine assists — a total that exceeded his shots (six) and points (five). “I was like, ‘OK, Magic,’ ” Rivers said, referring to legendary Lakers point guard Magic Johnson. “You guys should get the stat sheet and have him sign it. … What I loved about it was Jamal was the happiest guy about it.”
4. Paul continues to engineer vastly improved ball movement. The point guard had 12 assists and only one turnover, improving on an already otherwordly assist-to-turnover ratio. He now has a ratio of 6.8 to one on the season, far exceeding his career mark of 4.12 assists for every turnover. He was especially deft with the ball during a first quarter in which the Clippers had 11 assists on their 17 baskets and shot 68%. “The ball movement in the first quarter was beautiful,” Rivers said. “It’s hard to guard that.”
5. Will “The Grindhouse” be the place where the Clippers’ road success comes to a halt on Sunday? Memphis (10-2) has the best record in the NBA and is 6-0 at home. There’s also the hate factor between teams that eliminated each other from the playoffs in back-to-back years, with the Clippers winning in 2012 and the Grizzlies the next season. This will be the start of a stretch of five games in seven nights for the Clippers.