Clippers Off to Best Start in 20 Years : Pro basketball: Their 101-90 victory over Dallas, no patsy, is fifth in a row.
If this keeps up it may be difficult to get Clipper tickets.
Off to their best start in 20 years, the Clippers extended their winning streak to five in a row, beating the Dallas Mavericks, 101-90, without leading scorer Lamond Murray, sidelined with flu, and injured reserve center Stanley Roberts (heel) Friday night before an announced crowd of 7,776 at the Sports Arena.
“I’m not surprised,” rookie guard Brent Barry said of the Clippers’ fast start. “This is a new team with new faces. I just hope we’re still on this roll in the mid to late season.”
In the midst of their longest winning streak since March 1992, the Clippers (6-3) got their first test of the season against the Dallas Mavericks (5-3) off to the best start in franchise history.
The Clippers haven’t been 6-3 since 1975, when they were the Buffalo Braves and started 7-3 and finished 46-36.
Although the Clippers had won four in a row, they hadn’t beaten a team with a winning record during the streak, beating Vancouver twice, Denver, which lost its first six games, and the Golden State Warriors, who look as disorganized as they did last season. The four teams that the Clippers ran up their streak against had a combined record of 5-18.
“Every game is a test for us,” guard Malik Sealy said. “We beat very few teams last year. We’ve only played eight games, it’s not like we’ve won a championship. We constantly have to prove ourselves and see how far we can go.”
The Clippers passed the test, making their first 12 shots of the fourth quarter to build 19-point lead.
Center Brian Williams, who was averaging 17.7 points and 7.3 rebounds in his last three games, scored a season-high 28 points, one shy of his career high, despite sitting out the final 6:52. Williams, who made all 10 shots he took against Dallas in an exhibition game last month, made 12 of 16 Friday night.
Rodney Rogers replaced Murray, starting his first game of the season.
Rogers, who was averaging nine points and 3.9 rebounds, had 13 points and four rebounds in the first half and finished with 19 points and eight rebounds.
“You always have to be ready because you never know what’s going to happen,” Rogers said. “You’ve got to be able to step in and play with the same intensity.
“Everybody prefers starting, but you can only start five and it really doesn’t matter who starts, it matters who’s in there at the end.”
Loy Vaught had 16 points and 11 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Barry made five of six shots and had 12 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Trailing by six points at halftime after being outscored 26-10 in the final eight minutes of the second quarter, the Clippers blitzed the Mavericks 16-0 in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter to take a 61-51 lead. Dallas missed its first nine shots and had three turnovers. Jim Jackson scored the Mavericks’ first basket of the second half on a layup with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter.
“It was really disheartening right before the half,” Williams said. “But this team has a bit of heart and pride. We came out in the second half and showed exactly what we can do.”
Center Stanley Roberts, who limped off the court in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s victory over the Vancouver Grizzlies because of bursitis in his right heel, was held out of the game after receiving a pain-killing injection before the game. Coach Bill Fitch used Keith Tower in place of Roberts as the Clippers’ reserve center.