Recap | Box score
MVP: Blake Griffin did it all, and provided his usual handful of highlights to boot by torching the Suns for 23 points, 11 boards, four steals and three assists. The Clippers outscored the Suns by 33 with Griffin on the floor.
LVP: Goran Dragic played one of his worst games of the season with just seven points and one assist to three turnovers while getting torched at the other end by Chris Paul, who went for 17 and 13.
That was … chippy: The Suns and Clippers combined for six technicals in a physical game that also saw Alvin Gentry kicked out for arguing a foul call.
— Michael Schwartz, Valley of the Suns
13 wins a row
It’s a baker’s dozen. And now the Clippers are 4 wins away from being undefeated in December. Let that sink in for a moment: The Los Angeles Clippers could go an ENTIRE MONTH without losing. Only 10 teams have done that in the shot-clock era.
Tweet of the Game
I wonder if Grant Hill grabbed some treatment from the Warlocks while he is in town.
— charlie widdoes (@charliewiddoes) December 24, 2012
Eric Bledsoe Per36 Stat o’ The Night
ClipperBlogLive’s Best Moment
ClipperBlog Live’s “Stolen Internet Game” functions much stronger with multiple participants, as Jordan partially undresses on camera and Jovan tosses his unmentionables on screen.
Check Your Messages
We’re seeing a change in Chris Paul.
Tonight, Paul came out and immediately dominated as a scorer. His 12 first-quarter points (paired with four assists and three steals) gave him his best opening quarter of the season and partly because of that, we’re starting to see a change in Paul’s game.
Over his past two performances, Paul has dominated the ball even more than usual. His 17 points and 13 assists in only 29 minutes paired with his 24-point, 13-assist game against Sacramento on Friday give him his best back-to-back performance of the season. And with that aggression has come shooting.
The NBA season is long. Some say too long. But for Paul’s shooting it seems to be just right.
Heading into the Kings game, he was shooting only 31.9 percent from three, but over these last two games, there’s been quite a change. He’s 7-for-11 from beyond the arc and is improving his percentage from midrange shot with each attempt.
Thank regression – or in this case, progression – to the mean, because Chris Paul’s shot is back.
– Fred Katz
Settle down, Mike Smith
Mike Smith’s pearl of wisdom for the night: “Whenever I had breakaways, Ralph, it was never hard for me to decide what to do. For blake it must be incredibly difficult. He’s gotta decide which dunk to do… I only had one.”
– Michael Shagrin
Griffin flying… under the radar
Most of the talk has been about the bench and the improvements on the defensive end, but Blake Griffin is quietly enjoying as productive of a season as he’s ever had. The difference is that he’s playing less, 32.5 minutes to be exact, so his per game numbers (18.2 points, 8.8 rebounds) aren’t as high as they usually are.
Looking at his per-36 stats, however, you see that he’s right at 20 points, 10 rebounds and 53 percent shooting. He currently has the active record of 11 straight games of 50+ percent shooting, a PER of 22.8, and is becoming a reasonable defender.
What’s not to like?
– Jovan Buha
Well, Griffin can’t bring about world peace.. can he?
From a fan’s perspective, the Clippers’ 13-game winning streak has been a revelation, but from a blogging standpoint, it’s starting to get kinda old. The schedule keeps serving up cupcakes, the Clippers keep spitting them back out, and there’s only so long you can argue about Willie Green’s minutes before you start to feel petty.
So here’s a nuance-free conclusion for these uncomplicated times: it’s mind-boggling how quickly Blake Griffin continues to improve.
Griffin recently told color man Mike Smith, that he “gets the most satisfaction out of doing the things people say I can’t do.” If that’s true, then Blake must be feeling pretty satisfied these days.
Remember the commentator consensus that Blake’s shot was hitched nearly beyond salvage? He continues to put up top-10 mid-range shooting numbers for a power forward, hitting two mid-range J’s, along with a clock-shot beating corner 3 and a perfect 6-for-6 at line.
After routinely being described last year as a WWE heel, Griffin has hugely reduced his expressive commentary, limiting his smirks, stare downs and incredulous hand gestures. He seems more content to let his game speak for him; even when calls don’t go his way, it no longer seems to distract him the way it did in the past. Tonight, after Shannon Brown sent him sprawling into the baseline photographers on the fast break, Blake skipped the scowling, untangled himself quickly and sank both free-throws.
Finally – and most importantly – many people (OK, myself included) have questioned Blake’s ability to be a consistent plus defender. Some said his arms were too short. Others simply questioned his desire to put in the work necessary to defend at a high level night in and night out. But here he was, living in the passing lanes on a sleepy Phoenix Sunday night. Blake’s biggest improvement this season has been a) his ability to selectively utilize the his explosiveness on the defensive end, and b) a nightly commitment to focused rotations that we’ve never seen before from Blake. It doesn’t matter how easy the Clips’ recent schedule has been, a 13 game winning streak requires consistency, and Blake’s quiet evolution into the complete player people doubted he could be has made that possible.
– Jordan Heimer