Make no mistake about it, “Showtime” basketball is still being played in Los Angeles, it’s just not being played by the team that made it famous.
The Los Angeles Clippers are the most exciting team in the NBA, something the 76ers and 17,550 fans at the Wells Fargo Center found out in a 107-90 Clippers victory that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
“To me, that was the most impressive performance that I’ve seen from a team against us this year,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “Speed, size, defense – they shot the ball, their defense was tremendous. Their bigs are so active and quick. They were tremendous. The credit goes to them.”
One couldn’t really blame anyone wearing a Sixers jersey for admiring the Clippers’ handiwork. Playing their second game in as many days, the Clippers (37-17) were playing the final game of a 13-day, eight-game road trip but did not look tired.
They shot a season-best 58.7 percent (44 of 74) from the field, which is also the best shooting percentage this season by a Sixers foe.
Coming off a victory over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, the Clippers established their superiority at the onset and never trailed after taking a 6-0 lead.
“Our starting unit got out to a 6-0 lead and they had to take a timeout,” said all-star point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 21 points, 11 assists, and 5 steals in just three quarters. “We kept the pressure on and never let them get into a rhythm.”
Former Sixer Willie Green was the only Clippers starter to play in the fourth quarter. All-star forward Blake Griffin finished with 20 points on 9-for-14 shooting, and Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 20 on 8-for-10 shooting. Crawford’s three-point basket with 9 minutes, 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the Clippers their largest lead of the night, 95-63.
Nick Young led the Sixers with a game-high 29 points against his former team. The Sixers finished their longest homestand of the season with a 5-3 record.
No game against the Clippers is complete without a high-flying dunk or two, and there were at least six or seven against the Sixers.
Griffin’s one-handed dunk over Spencer Hawes (five points, 10 boards) with 5:46 to play in the third excited the crowd as much as anything the home team did. Fouled on the play, Griffin, a notoriously poor free-throw shooter, missed the foul shot.
As if shot out of a cannon, teammate DeAndre Jordan exploded over Sixers forward Arnett Moultrie (eight points, six rebounds) for a putback dunk and a 73-48 Clippers lead.
“A high-flying team,” Young said. “I don’t think there is another team out there like it.”
Eventually, Sixers fans began to anticipate dunks from the Clippers, so much so that they actually booed Griffin later in the third when he exerted little effort on an unguarded dunk.