Los Angeles Clippers quiet contenders
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – If you haven’t heard by now, the Los Angeles Clippers locker room at Staples Center was quite the comedic scene after their win vs. the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday that tied a franchise record as the 11th in a row.
Owner Donald Sterling made his first visit to the shared office of his players and led them all in a surreal chant of, “Hip, hip, hooray.” He even grabbed the arm of coach Vinny Del Negro and raised it triumphantly into the air, forgetting for a moment that he was on the wrong side of a $17.3 million verdict this week, and yelling, “How about the coach? Can we hear it for the coach?!” At this rate, the next time their hands join forces will be to sign a Del Negro extension that he seems more deserving of with every passing day.
You may not have heard about this, however, because the Lakers are still captivating the attention of this city and the masses whether they win or not. But quietly, confidently, and cohesively, the 19-6 Clippers are playing with such electricity and efficiency that the time for not noticing must come to an end.
It goes well beyond Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, though both Clippers stars have not only continued to grow in their own right but to thrive together in ways that didn’t always seem likely. It’s super sub Jamal Crawford (16.6 points per game), backup-in-name-only point guard Eric Bledsoe (9.4 points per), a revitalized Matt Barnes (10 points, five rebounds per), an evolving and always-exciting DeAndre Jordan (7.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks per), and more. The Clippers’ dominance is in their depth.
No one knows better than Barnes how much better these Clippers are, not only better than the Lakers but – according to this scribe’s latest personal power rankings that can be seen below – every other team not based in Oklahoma City. After seeing the Lakers’ decline up close the last two seasons as a reserve, the 32-year-old Barnes signed a veteran’s minimum deal to play for Los Angeles “other” NBA team in … [For more on Los Angeles Clippers quiet contenders in West: NBA A-Z, click here.]