The Clippers started their seven-game, 12-day trip in impressive fashion, beating the Orlando Magic, 114-90, on Wednesday night at Amway Center in their most lopsided victory of the season. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. The Clippers’ bench continues to be a big plus. The reserves outscored their starting counterparts, 60-54, thanks in large part to solid play from Jamal Crawford (22 points), Jordan Farmar (13) and Spencer Hawes (10). It helps immensely that the team’s top five reserves -- Crawford, Farmar, Hawes, Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu -- are all veterans who have started at various points of their careers, giving them an advantage over many of their opponents. “New guys and some returning guys, it’s not going to look as fluid always,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said, “but they looked great the past two games and that’s what we need from them.”
2. The ball movement was much improved. All of that talk about trust issues was put to rest, at least for one night, as the Clippers continually shared the ball and traded in good shots for great ones. Point guard Chris Paul was particularly selfless with nine assists. “We’ve been talking about it a lot, so tonight the ball didn’t stick,” Paul said. “We just kept moving and hitting the next guy, making the right play and we’ve got to be consistent with that.”
3. The bench’s big output meant extra rest for the starters, which could be important considering the Clippers play again Thursday. DeAndre Jordan played only 24 minutes and Griffin and Paul each played only 30 minutes, with all three players sitting out the entire fourth quarter. “Going to play against a tough Miami team tomorrow,” Paul said, “we needed to get that rest.”
4. It was a much better start to the Clippers’ first extended trip of the season than last year. The Clippers opened their first trip last year in Orlando and lost before going on to Miami and losing again. They got the first part of the equation right this time and are hoping for more. “We’re trying to change both of them,” Paul said.
5. Steve Ballmer travels well. The Clippers’ new owner was a visible presence before and after the game, yukking it up with Doc Rivers while the coach spoke to reporters and entering the locker room afterward to congratulate his players, along with former Masters champion Bubba Watson. “He comes in and just says, ‘Hey, great job,’ ” Rivers said of Ballmer. “He doesn’t say much, but he says it loudly.”