The Los Angeles Clippers extended their winning streak to 16 games thanks to a 19-point comeback against the Utah Jazz.
The Clippers were led by Chris Paul, who scored 29 points in the 116-114 win on Friday night. The team had a scare at the very end when former Clipper Randy Foye got off a last-second three point attempt with Matt Barnes in his face. Though it appeared there might have been contact, Barnes was not called.
Paul turned it on at the end, The Associated Press noted, scoring the team’s final seven points, mostly from the free-throw line.
With the win the Clippers extended both the NBA’s longest winning streak and improved the league’s best record to a 24-6 mark.
The Jazz had actually build a 74-55 lead in the third quarter after a pair of free throws from Paul Millsap. But from there it was all Clippers.
For the rest of the third quarter Los Angeles outscored Utah 29-14 to enter the fourth quarter just four points behind, at 88-84.
In the high-scoring affair, six Clippers notched double-digit points, including Blake Griffin with 22 points and 13 rebounds as well as 16 points and 10 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan.
Despite the impressive streak from the Clippers, some critics still see the team not as a true title contender, NBA.com‘s Sekou Smith writes. He notes that many believe the team’s softness on defense will keep it from a long playoff run.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers set the record straight after the Clippers manhandeld his team on Christmas.
“Last year, I think they showed up and they just thought their talent and their offense was [going to win for them],” Rivers said of the Clippers. “But this year their defense has been fantastic. I mean, we’re all talking about their offense, but they’re playing just terrific defense. And they have balance now. They’re fifth in the league in scoring, fifth in defense. That’s a balanced basketball team and that makes you really good.”