The Clippers led big in this game. For most teams that would elicit a sigh of relief from their fans, but Clippers fans are built a bit different. They have also watched their team lose their fair share of games in which they had a big lead. The 31 points they were up against the Phoenix Suns felt safe, until it wasn’t. To their credit, the Clippers kept grinding and while the Suns got close, they never took the lead. Paul George was the primary reason why. His offence carried the Clippers to the big lead and the teams will, determination and timely defense won it. The Phoenix Suns are no joke. They will likely make the playoffs this season and have taken on the hardnose personality of their new starting point guard, Chris Paul. Not a great game for the Clippers overall, but undoubtedly a great win.
Star of the game
Paul George had 39 points on 15 or 24 shooting, 7 of 10 from three-point range. No one else on the team had more than 15 pts. Suffice it to say that if PG didn’t show up for the Clippers tonight they would not have won. Today’s NBA is much different than it was when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon dominated the paint. Today, every player needs to be a threat from deep. One similarity however is that it takes great players playing as a team to win consistently. The more great players you have, the better your chances. Tonight Kawhi Leonard was a bit off. His 15 points on 4 of 21 shooting is not typical, but off-nights happen to everyone. Having someone like Paul George in addition to Leonard is a luxury not many in the Association have. Tonight, they needed that luxury!
The Clippers have a stigma. Fans in Denver and of the other team in Los Angeles love to point out how the Clippers have a tendency, dating back to last season, to give up big leads. It’s a valid point and a legitimate concern should it continue. If a team, any team, losing a game after being up 30+ points it could be chalked up to an aberration. A one time thing. If it happens more than once it becomes, or can become, a teams identity. Doc Rivers is coaching the Philadelphia 76ers, not the Los Angeles Clippers, this season in part because his teams lost 3-1 series leads not once (aberration) but three times!
No Clippers fan enjoyed watching the Suns come to within a point of the Clippers after they had a 31 point lead. Clippers fans are just built differently, they love their team, but they are cautiously optimistic instead of fiercely optimistic. The Clippers won tonight, but giving up 30 points to a team after being up 31 points is a concern. Period.
Tuesday, January 5th vs the San Antonio Spurs
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!