Instead, they pushed through their weariness for a 112-96 victory over the
Not until the game started to wind down late in the fourth quarter, when their 21-point lead started to shrink some, did the Clippers appear to be losing some steam from having been on the road for 12 days.
But in the end they became the first team in franchise history to win six games on a seven-game trip.
"You don't get a trophy for that, but it's still nice," Clippers Coach
The Clippers traveled 7,231 miles on the 6-1 trip, losing only to a
Just as impressive was that the Clippers were playing the second of back-to-back games, and improved to 5-0 in those situations. Blake Griffin scored 28 points, Jamal Crawford had 22, and
"It showed how focused we were," Paul said. "We talked about it before the jump ball — me, Blake and DJ [DeAndre Jordan]. We wanted to make sure we set the tone, make sure we set the pace."
The Clippers were energized in the first quarter, opening a 20-point lead, looking like a well-rested team and not one that had been traveling for nearly two weeks.
But then the second unit came into the game and lost all the energy the starters had established, playing poorly enough to allow Utah to cut the deficit to five points midway through the second quarter.
Once the starters returned, order was restored for the Clippers, who took a 12-point lead into the half.
"To jump on them early was a surprise, but nice," Rivers said. "We got such a quick lead. The second unit did not play well in the first half, but the starters came back in and re-established things."
Before the Clippers left Los Angeles on Nov. 18, they had lost to a Chicago Bulls team that was playing without injured starters Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol.
There was "What's wrong?" talk because of the Clippers' uneven play in the first nine games.
Now, they are 11-5 and seemingly back on track.
"We're just starting to play better overall," Rivers said. "We're starting to get it. You can see it. We're not there. I don't think anyone is there right now, to be honest. So you just keep building and keep getting better.
"I think your trust grows as the year goes on. And you can see our trust growing — on both ends. And I think that's important."