The Clippers are suddenly on a roll. The team that had everyone second-guessing their makeup and their mettle after the season’s first few weeks has put together a nice run, with a 127-101 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night at Staples Center the latest evidence of their turnaround. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. When J.J. Redick is making his shots early in the game, watch out. Redick scored nine points before the game was five minutes old, making his first four shots. His early spurt included a four-point play in which he made a three-pointer while being fouled by Corey Brewer. He finished with 23 points.
2. Blake Griffin’s jumper is most effective when it’s his secondary option. Too often early in the season, Griffin was lingering on the perimeter after setting picks instead of rolling to the basket. He showed a few times Monday what can happen when he takes the other route and goes inside, getting a variety of dunks. He also made a few jumpers on the way to 23 points, but he should be relying on his interior game.
3. The bench and the starters played well in tandem after the opening 15 minutes. The Clippers’ second unit got the team the lead early in the second quarter, and the starters didn’t tail off from there, extending the cushion to as much as 37 points. The Clippers had not been able to get both their starters and reserves to play well for an entire game, something that needs to happen routinely for the team to become a legitimate title contender.
4. Ekpe Udoh finally scored. It took seven games for the big man to score his first basket with his new team, going in for a layup late in the fourth quarter. Udoh is known primarily for defense but must contribute something on the other end to gain more playing time. He’s averaging only 3.4 minutes a game but doesn’t seem to mind. “I love this team!!!!” he tweeted after the game.
5. Every win is going to be needed in the Western Conference. The Clippers have won five consecutive games and seven of their last eight -- and are still in seventh place in the standings. The good news is that they’re only three games behind conference-leading Memphis, but it’s clear that teams cannot give away games they should win. The Clippers have what appears to be an excellent chance to go 4-0 on the current homestand, with games against Orlando, New Orleans and Phoenix remaining before they hit the road again.