Clippers beat Hornets for 11th straight win
Los Angeles ties team record with 93-77 victory
What about the flip side, when a team is in throes of an 11-game winning streak?
Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford said it best after the Clippers' breezy 93-77 win over the slumping New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night, which tied a club record for consecutive wins.
"Everything tastes better," said Crawford who had 17 points and five assists off the bench. "Practices are better. TV shows are better. Everything is better when you're winning."
Los Angeles has done a lot of that lately as the defense and second unit have come alive.
On Wednesday, it was no different, as the Hornets shot just 38 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers. But it was a drastic turnaround from when the teams first met this season, when New Orleans gained one of its five wins with a 105-98 victory on Nov. 26 at Staples Center.
"I didn't see anything different," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. "They just scored more points. When we played her last time, we hit shots and we didn't turn the ball over as much in key situations. It's easy to pick and try to figure out what went wrong -- we just couldn't hit shots."
The Clippers did not have the same issues, hitting 50 percent from the field and 61 percent from inside the 3-point line.
Los Angeles was particularly hot in the first half, shooting 55 percent from the field as Chris Paul hit the 10-assist mark by halftime. Paul, who finished with 10 points and 12 assists, hit the 5,000-assist mark for his career against the team that drafted him on a night that the Clippers won their 11th consecutive game for the first time since 1974-75, when they were the Buffalo Braves.
"I wasn't even alive," Paul said of the last great Clipper/Braves stretch. "I didn't come around until '85. It's pretty special. It's great for our fans, for our team, but we can't be satisfied."
Los Angeles lengthened a one-point lead to 16 late in the second quarter as the team's impressive second unit stepped up. The Clippers claimed a 41-28 advantage in bench scoring as they maintained their energy while New Orleans faltered.
"We didn't come out with energy," Hornets rookie Anthony Davis said. "They had a lot more energy than us, more focus. They made shots that they missed last time we played them. They got a lot of easy buckets. They were kind of running us a little bit. They did a better job in the second half playing better defense."
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, a vast improvement from the teams' first matchup, when he had perhaps the worst night of his young career. Hounded by New Orleans' post players last month, Griffin shot just 1-for-9 from the field for a career-low four points before fouling out.
Robin Lopez had 22 points and nine rebounds, including six offensive boards, to lead the Hornets. Rookie power forward Anthony Davis added 16 points and five rebounds, but Ryan Anderson went just 2 of 13 from the field and 0-for-8 from 3-point range for New Orleans.
"We're doing a better job defensively talking," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Tonight we had to switch some things because Ryan Anderson was popping a lot. We did some better things tonight, switching, talking defensively. But for us, it's about time. Any group that puts seven new guys together, you're gonna have to have time together."
And for this group, they're starting to have their time -- the time of their lives.
Even owner Donald Sterling made a rare appearance into the postgame locker room, joining the festivities.
"I think that was the first time," Crawford said of Sterling being in the locker room. "That means he's happy. And if he's happy, the rest of us are happy."
NOTES: The Clippers' hot stretch has them among the league's elite, as they are tied with the New York Knicks for the second-best winning percentage in the NBA. ... Chauncey Billups missed his eighth consecutive game with peroneal tendinitis in his left foot; he has played in three games this year after returning Nov. 28 from a ruptured left Achilles. ... Fellow veteran Grant Hill (right knee bone bruise) has yet to play for the Clippers this season. ... Eric Gordon (knee) and Jason Smith (shoulder) were sidelined for the Hornets. ... Griffin's poor night against the Hornets in the teams' first matchup was just the fourth time in his NBA career that he has scored fewer than 10 points. ... Caron Butler set the franchise record for 3-pointers in a game (nine) in the Hornets' win in November. He scored six points and missed all four of his 3-point attempts Wednesday.
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