No one can say the Clippers are making it look easy, but they’re certainly making it count. A 114-111 overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday at Staples Center represented their ninth consecutive win, the longest active winning streak in the NBA.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
1) With no one able to beat them recently, the Clippers almost did it to themselves. They went the final 6:05 in regulation without a field goal, fouled Jrue Holiday on a three-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation and then didn’t foul Ryan Anderson as instructed in the final moments of overtime, persevering only after Anderson failed to step beyond the three-point line and hoisted a shot that was off the mark. The Clippers also made only 18 of 34 free throws, with DeAndre Jordan (four for 10) and Luc Mbah a Moute (two for seven) the biggest culprits. Nothing came easy, the Clippers needing back-to-back three-pointers from Wesley Johnson and Chris Paul in overtime to prevail. “We had so many chances to put it away and we just couldn’t,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.
3) The deliberate “unintentional” fouls became a factor late in the game. The Pelicans jumped on players’ backs at the free-throw line or ran into them before play could resume in the final minutes of regulation and overtime, a sneaky attempt to rally without any time coming off the clock. The ploy did not please Rivers, though he used the same tactic to help his team come back for a victory over the Detroit Pistons last month. “It’s just bad for the league,” Rivers said. “I mean, that game could have lasted forever.” The Clippers didn’t help themselves by making only one of four free throws in the final 1:36 of regulation and three of six free throws in the final 38 seconds of overtime. “You’ve got to make free throws,” Mbah a Moute said. “I think that’s the bottom line is guys got to work on their free throws. It’s part of the rules, so why not use it? If I’m a coach, I’m going to use it.”
4) Jordan’s consecutive-games-played streak keeps rising. He’s played in an NBA-leading 360 consecutive games, which becomes all the more remarkable when you consider that teammates Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have each missed considerable chunks of recent seasons. “The only guy out of that core group that has been a constant has been D.J.,” Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said, who marveled at Jordan’s durability given the nature of his role. “That’s crazy because you’re setting all those picks. You’re rolling, trying to block every shot and getting all those rebounds. You’re doing all the dirty work, not the flashy stuff besides the dunks. It’s not the flashiest stuff, but he’s there every single day. That’s the one constant. We know he’ll be back there.” Said Pelicans Coach Alvin Gentry: “He’s been fortunate he doesn’t get hurt and if is it’s usually some little simple minor thing that doesn’t keep him out. In today’s NBA, the fact that you could play 300 consecutive games is really phenomenal.”
Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans pressures Clippers guard Chris Paul during overtime.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Pelicans forward Ryan Anderson fouls Clippers forward Wesley Johnson late in overtime while battling for rebounding position.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer cheers from his baseline seat as his club beat the Pelicans, 114-111, in overtime on Sunday at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford navigates past Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca, left, and guard Jrue Holiday during overtime.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan misses a dunk as he is fouled by Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham during the second half.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Pelicans guard Norris Cole beats Clippers forward Wesley Johnson to a loose ball during the second half.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan loses control of the ball as he is fouled by Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday during the first half of a game Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers guard Chris Paul steps between Pelicans center Omer Asik, left, and Tyreke Evans to make a steal during the first half Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford struggles to get to the basket against Pelicans defender Jrue Holiday in the first half(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers guard J.J. Redick pulls up for a shot over Pelicans guard Eric Gordon in the first half.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan blocks the shot of Pelicans guard Eric Gordon during the first half.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Pelicans center Omer Asik is fouled by Clippers guard Chris Paul during the second half.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers guard Chris Paul drives to the basket against Pelicans guard Norris Cole during the first half.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers center Cole Aldrich hits Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca in the face as the two battle for a loose ball in the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
5) The Clippers have done a lot of winning, but have they really beaten anyone? They have won nine consecutive games, the last eight without Griffin. They’ve tightened their defense and improved their three-point shooting. Something they haven’t done: beat one of the top teams in either conference. That gives their matchup against Miami on Wednesday night at Staples Center a bit of extra pizzazz considering the Heat is in fifth place in the vastly improved Eastern Conference. “They play with a lot of pace, a lot of tempo, and we’ve got a tough game coming up,” Paul said. You might be able to say a victory over the Heat would stretch the Clippers’ streak to a perfect 10.