Defense wins championships, and the Clippers are playing tough on that side of the court. They are 4th in the league in scoring defense, and they are 1st in forced turnovers. Photo by Leon Bennett
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
As the Lakers continue to dominate the headlines, for negative reasons, the Clippers just keep on winning.
Heading into this past Tuesday night’s slate of games, the Clippers were on a 10 game winning streak, while the Lakers had only won 11 games all season.
The Clippers had the second best record in the Western Conference, which was also tied with the New York Knicks for the second best record in the entire league. The Clippers have a better record than the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, and they have wins over both of those teams (they have defeated the Spurs twice this season).
This may be the best Clippers team ever. It would be hard to imagine any point in their franchise history when they could look at their schedule and say that they are better than just about every team on it. Leading up to their January 22 match up with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who has the best record in the league, it is hard to pick out a game that the Clippers would not be the clear favorite, and that includes a match up with the Lakers.
This is uncharted territory for this team, who has only had six winning seasons in franchise history, and they have never advanced to the conference finals.
The Clippers are playing well on both sides of the court, as they are 7th in the league in scoring offense with 101.6 points per game, and they are 4th in scoring defense, only giving up 93.1 points per game. They are +8.5 points per game over their opponents, which is the second highest points differential in the league. The Thunder are 1st with a +9.5.
Digging deeper into the stats, the Clippers are 4th in the league in field goal percentage, making 47.9 percent of their shots, while they are holding their opponents to only 42.8 percent from the field, which is 4th in the league.
The Clippers also gain extra possessions by forcing their opponents into 17.4 turnovers per game, best in the league, while they only turn the ball over 14.5 times a game, which is 9th in the league. That can partially be attributed to All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who is second in the league with 9.2 assists per game and first in the league with 2.58 steals per game.
The Clippers gain extra possessions while shooting the ball at a higher percentage than their opponents, which will lead to wins on most nights.
It is still early in the season, but so far so good for the Clippers. They entered the season as one of the better teams in the league, and they are proving that they are up for the challenge of being a contender. Not a playoff contender, but a championship contender.