For the first time in the history of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise, you can call them “division champions.”
Led by Blake Griffin’s 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists, the Clippers toppled their Staples Center co-tenants, the Los Angeles Lakers, 109-95 Sunday afternoon. It’s the first time the Clippers have swept the Lakers in a season series since the club moved to Los Angeles in 1984. The only other season sweep of the Lakers in the Clippers’ franchise history came in 1974-75, when they were the Buffalo Braves. It was only the second time in team history that they’ve defeated the Lakers in the season series.
The Clippers’ history dates all the way back to the 1970-71 season, when they were the aforementioned Buffalo Braves. The team then moved to San Diego following the 1977-78 season. Prior to this season, they’ve never finished higher than second place in any division.
Chris Paul also scored 24 points for the Clippers, to go along with 12 assists and five boards. L.A. also got great scoring contributions from Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford off-the-bench, as the two swingmen combined to score 32 points.
Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard led the Lakers with 25 points apiece, but DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Hollins and Griffin did a fabulous job of keeping Howard off of the glass. The league’s leading rebounder, averaging 12.6 boards per game, was limited to just four rebounds Sunday.
The Lakers led 3-1 to open the game, which was good for the largest lead the Lakers had had at any point over the Clippers this season. They led 15-9 midway through the first quarter, before the Clippers, led by seven quick points from Barnes, stormed back to take a 30-25 lead after one period.
The Clippers led by seven at the half, and extended that to a 13-point lead entering the fourth quarter. The Lakers never truly threatened. They got to within nine points at one point during the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get any closer.
The division championship means the Clippers are guaranteed to be one of the Western Conference’s top-four seeds, regardless of record. However, unless they finish with a better record than Memphis, who is currently in fifth, they won’t have home court advantage.
This was a damaging loss for the Lakers, who fell back into a tie with the Utah Jazz for the conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. Utah takes on the Golden State Warriors tonight with a chance to take sole possession of eighth.
At 51-26, the Clippers have already set a new franchise record for best record in a season. With one more win at home, they’ll set a new franchise record for most home wins in a season.
The New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans (Horlicans? Pelinets?) will invade Staples Center on Tuesday night to take on the Lakers. We’ll next see the Clippers on Wednesday night, when the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.