A blocked shot by Luc Mbah a Moute early in the first quarter was the first sign of what kind of defense the Clippers had planned for the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday afternoon.
Then there was another block by DeAndre Jordan later in the first, one by Paul Pierce in the second and another by Jordan later in the quarter that drove home how unrelenting the Clippers were going to be.
It was a show of force by Clippers, who put the clamps on the Hornets during a 97-83 victory at Staples Center.
And it was more than the nine blocks the Clippers had as a team that helped Los Angeles extend its season-high winning streak to eight games.
FOR THE RECORD:
Clippers: In the Jan. 10 Sports section, a headline on an article about the L.A. Clippers vs. Charlotte Hornets game misstated the score as Clippers 97, Charlotte 93. As the article stated, the Clippers won, 97-83. —
It was the defense throughout the game that limited the Hornets to 36.7% shooting and forced 16 turnovers.
Jordan, who had four blocks, said having Mbah a Moute and Pierce starting at forward allows them to all switch on defense because of their size and willingness to help each other out.
Mbah a Moute had only that one block, but it set the tone. Pierce had two blocks.
"We're a lot more versatile with this lineup on the floor," said Jordan, who also had 11 points and 19 rebounds. "We can all guard threes, fours and fives [small forwards, power forwards and centers] and that helps our defense a lot."
The Clippers gave up 28 points in the second quarter, but other than that, they were unyielding on defense.
They gave up 18 points in the first on 30.4% shooting, 18 in the third on 30% shooting and 19 in the fourth on 38.9% shooting.
"Obviously, for us to win we had to embrace the defensive side of the ball, and we did that," said J.J. Redick, who had 17 points. "Three quarters for them under 20 points is pretty phenomenal."
Asked about Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford and Redick combining for 61 points, the talk quickly returned to the defense that sent the Hornets to their sixth consecutive defeat.
"We're putting a huge emphasis on defense," said Paul, who had 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. "The only way we can really score without the big fella is if we defend and get out in transition."
The big fella is Blake Griffin, who missed his seventh consecutive game with a partially torn left quad tendon.
The Clippers have won all seven of those games and have given up more than 100 points only twice.
"We've really embraced the defense side of the basketball, and really before Blake got hurt, we had done that, I think, since the second Golden State game," Redick said of a 124-117 loss on Nov. 19. "Since that time, I think we're top five or six on defense in the league."