The last time Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan both missed a game, Kim Hughes was coaching the Clippers. Baron Davis was the team’s point guard, two years before his retirement and more than half a decade before he would start his current comeback attempt by venturing to the Development League.
A lot has changed since Feb. 9, 2010, including the Clippers’ resilience.
The absence of their top two frontcourt players couldn’t stop the Clippers or the NBA’s longest active winning streak, which both rolled on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The Clippers shrugged off a 16-point deficit in the second quarter on the way to a surprisingly comfortable 104-90 victory over the Miami Heat that extended their season-long winning streak to 10 games.
Jordan sat out because of pneumonia, ending the NBA’s longest consecutive games played streak at 360. Griffin has not played since Christmas because of a partially torn left quadriceps tendon.
John Legend and Chrissy Teigen sit courtside for the final Kobe Bryant-LeBron James matchup on March 10, 2016, at Staples Center.(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)
Cam Newton takes in the Cavaliers-Lakers game on March 10, 2016, when Kobe Bryant and LeBron James played against each other for the final time.(Harry How / Getty Images)
Beyonce and Jay Z take in the Clippers’ 103-98 comeback victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 2, 2016.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Clippers guard Chris Paul, left, is congratulated by Billy Crystal after a 97-83 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 9.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Jay Z watches the Clippers pick up their 10th consecutive winy with a 104-90 victory over the Miami Heat on Jan. 13.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Freida Pinto and polo player Ronnie Bacardi watch the Lakers play the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 15, 2015.
(Danny Moloshok / AP)
Olivia Wilde talks to Will Forte during a Clippers game against the Orlando Magic on Dec. 5, 2015.(Mike Nelson / EPA)
Jack Black arrives for a Lakers game against the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 20, 2015.(John Salangsang / John Salangsang/Invision/AP)
Drake attends the game between the Lakers and his hometown Toronto Raptors on Nov. 20, 2015.(John Salangsang / Invision)
Will Ferrell has food delivered to his courtside seat during a game between the Lakers and Detroit Pistons on Nov. 15.(Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images)
Kendall Jenner watches the Lakers take on the Dallas Mavericks during a game Nov. 1, 2015.(Mike Nelson / EPA)
Arsenio Hall and George Lopez check out a season-opening game between the Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 28, 2015.(Harry How / Getty Images)
Recording artist Snoop Dogg attends a playoff game between the
Actors Billy Crystal, left, and Timothy Olyphant attend a playoff game between the
Actor Eddie Murphy and girlfriend Paige Butcher attend the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the
Actress Mindy Kaling attends a game between the
The void was filled by just about everyone left on the Clippers roster. Chris Paul continued his aggressive play of late with 15 points and 12 rebounds, Pablo Prigioni came up with a career-high eight steals and Cole Aldrich was strong across the board with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Even previously buried-on-the-bench Josh Smith logged 20 quality minutes. It was a night of strange occurrences for the Clippers (26-13).
“Playing without DJ tonight was the weirdest thing ever,” Paul said. “My first game in a Clippers uniform without him.”
Miami was missing starting point guard Goran Dragic because of a strained left calf, but the Heat didn’t look short-handed in taking a 47-31 lead amid haphazard defense by the Clippers. The absence of Dragic started to be felt late in the second quarter as the Heat started to get sloppy on offense, a trend that would continue as it finished the game with 24 turnovers.
“We didn’t do any changes defensively,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, “we just started doing it harder.”
The Clippers benefited from a wild third quarter in which they scored the first 13 points and outscored the Heat, 34-17. Aldrich was an unexpected offensive catalyst, showing a nice touch on his hook shot and continually rolling toward the basket on the way to 13 points in the quarter.
“We jokingly said before the game there won’t be a lot of lobs for Cole,” Rivers said, “there will be a lot of land shark rolls and he did that. He rolled himself to the basket, he got his body in position and he made shots. He was terrific.”
There was an odd sight in the first half as both Smith and Lance Stephenson played after falling out of the rotation in recent weeks. Of course, the Clippers really didn’t have much of a choice.
Smith set a few picks, played some solid defense and seemed initially reluctant to shoot from the perimeter, missing his first two shots near the basket. Smith finished with nine points on four-for-11 shooting to go with three of the Clippers’ 18 steals.
Los Angeles Clippers' Austin Rivers, center, tries to grab a loose ball in between Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson, left, and Josh Richardson during their game at the Staples Center on Wednesday.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers’ Josh Smith, left, contests a shot by Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh during their game at the Staples Center on Wednesday.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford, center, celebrates his three-point shot late in the 4th quarter that helped seal a win during their game at the Staples Center against the Miami Heat on Wednesday.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers Coach Doc Rivers reacts as the Clippers take on the Miami Heat at Staples Center on Wednesday.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers’ Cole Aldrich, center, and Paul Pierce, right, try to rebound with Miami Heat’s Gerald Green during their game at the Staples Center on Wednesday.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford, left, goes after a loose ball against Miami Heat’s Luol Deng during their game at the Staples Center on Wednesday.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers' Lance Stephenson, right, gets a hand on the ball while Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade tries to looks for a pass during their game at the Staples Center on Jan. 13.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Miami Heat’s Gerald Green, right, attempts a 3-pointer over Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul Pierce during the first half on Wednesday.(Danny Moloshok / AP)
Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade stands on the court against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half on Wednesday.(Danny Moloshok / AP)
Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh, right, brings in a defensive rebound next to Los Angeles Clippers’ Cole Aldrich during the first half on Wednesday.(Danny Moloshok / AP)
Los Angeles Clippers’ Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, left, and Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow reach for a loose ball during the first half on Wednesday.(Danny Moloshok / AP)
Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, left, controls the ball in front of Los Angeles Clippers’ J.J. Redick during the first half on Wednesday.(Danny Moloshok / AP)
The Clippers were down 52-45 at halftime, which felt like a small victory considering they shot 39.2%, took only two free throws and allowed the Heat to shoot 52.5% over the game’s first two quarters.
“Paul was great at halftime,” Rivers said. “He kept saying, ‘We’re going to win this game.’ ”
They did after outscoring the Heat, 38-10, from late in the second quarter to midway through the third, notching arguably their most impressive victory of the season in the process.
Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter: @latbbolch