A victory seemed assured even for the struggling Clippers considering all the fortunate circumstances delivered to them Saturday night.
It was up to the Clippers to take advantage of their favorable situation, which they did, by pulling out a much-needed 108-78 victory over a depleted Cleveland Cavaliers team at Staples Center.
The three-game losing game streak the Clippers were under included Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan not playing at Denver on Thursday night because of rest.
The return of both provided the Clippers with a jolt this team has been searching for.
Griffin had 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting and eight rebounds and Jordan had 13 points and 17 rebounds.
“At the end of the day, those guys that they played are NBA players and they are capable,” Griffin said. “So, no, we don’t look at it like they handed it to us.”
At least the fans at the arena and those watching the nationally televised game got to see the fully loaded Clippers team.
But they didn’t get to see Cavalier stars LeBron James (rest), Kyrie Irving (rest), Kevin Love (rest) and Kyle Korver (left knee) play.
“It’s a different game without LeBron and Kyrie and Kevin playing, obviously,” Griffin said. “We’re not going to pretend like it’s not. But at the end of the day you still have to go out and execute.”
The Clippers admittedly have been mired in a rut, but they at least found their missing defense in this game.
They held the Cavaliers to a season low in points for the game and a half (31).
So even if James (26 points per game), Irving (25.1) and Love (19.8), Cleveland’s top three scorers, didn’t play to the consternation of the fans that paid hard-earned money to watch those three, the Clippers were more than willing to take the victory.
“Listen, I hate it for the fans,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “I really do. I hate it. I do it. We all do it. It’s bad, and I did it the other night in Denver. There were people with Blake and DJ jerseys all over the place. And especially for national games, [it’s not good].”
The fans were restless early on, booing the Clippers after a late turnover in the first that led to them going down by two points at the end of the quarter.
They were aware that the Clippers entered the game against the Cavaliers having lost eight of their last 13 games.
“I know we’re not playing great right now,” Rivers said before the game. “I’ve been saying it for a couple of weeks. But I also know who we can be. And I think I know who we will be at some point this year. I have no doubt about that. But we do have to get there and we got to keep working on it.”
The fifth-place Clippers gained a game in the Western Conference on fourth-place Utah, which lost to Chicago on Saturday night.
Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner