It seems like a Lob City ordinance that the Clippers' alley-oops must start with the hands of Chris Paul.
Actually, they are often generated by the flailing arms and shifting feet of the Clippers defense. Whenever the team generates stops, they can lead to fastbreaks that end in Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan snatching a pass in midair and throwing down a vicious dunk.
A sturdy defensive effort Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena helped the Clippers recapture the run and fun ways that had largely eluded them this season.
The Clippers could have collected frequent flier miles during a 110-93 victory over the Miami Heat that included nine dunks and seven alley-oop passes that resulted in dunks or layups.
"It always starts defensively," said Paul, who had 26 points and 12 assists. "We get stops, we get out and run, and we're a fun team like that."
It was the Clippers' first victory here since March 10, 2008, well before LeBron James famously took his talents to South Beach and won two NBA titles during a four-year stopover on his way back to Cleveland. The Heat was also missing Dwyane Wade, sidelined by a wrist injury.
The Clippers essentially put the game away after racing to a 39-15 lead during a first quarter in which they made 17 of 25 shots. They were still up by 18 points at the half.
"Everyone at halftime, we were talking about the offense," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "I said, 'Guys, they had 15 points in the first quarter. It was our defense.'"
The lobs were in heavy supply in the first half for the Clippers. The team had six alley-oop baskets — four by Jordan, one by Griffin and one by Matt Barnes. Jordan finished the game scoring all 12 of his points on dunks.
Griffin snatched a seemingly too-high lob from Paul with one hand in the second quarter and dunked almost effortlessly.
The Clippers shot a season-high 55.8%, topping their previous best from Wednesday, when they shot 53.6% against Orlando.
"If we can score 50 points off the lob, I'm all for it," Rivers said. "We have two guys that even I could have thrown a lob to, really. It's not a hard pass with them because you could almost throw it anywhere. The one that Blake had, I thought, no way he could get it, but it was Blake, and he got it."
Griffin finished with 26 points on 12-for-18 shooting to go with three steals, including one in the third quarter that started a fastbreak in which he took another alley-oop pass from Paul for a dunk.
"Defense leads to offense for us and really gets us going and gives us that confidence," Griffin said.
Chris Bosh had 28 points for the Heat, which was also missing Norris Cole after the guard departed in the second quarter with a dislocated left middle finger.
Heat fans started filing out en masse at the end of the third quarter with their team trailing by 22 points.
"Today was just another … whooping," Bosh said ruefully after his team fell to 6-6.
It was the second impressive victory for the Clippers (7-4) to start a seven-game road trip. They were so comfortably ahead late in the game that team owner Steve Ballmer leaned back in his seat along the baseline, folding his arms across his chest.
His team is starting to resemble the one from last season that made him want to plunk down a record $2 billion.
"When we get multiple stops," Rivers said, "we get into fastbreaks, we move the ball, we share the ball and we're a different team."