Out of context, the Los Angeles Clippers started the season fine. They won six of their first 10 games and had the ninth-best offensive rating as they headed into Thursday night; many teams would kill for that.
But for a team with championship aspirations in a brutal Western Conference, the Clippers hadn't been good enough. Last year's no. 1 offense had been uncharacteristically grounded through the first 10 games of this season compared to their own and league-wide expectations. Coming into Thursday, the Clippers were No. 9 in the NBA with a 106 offensive rating. Their highlight plays weren't coming nearly as frequently as Lob City is accustom to -- Los Angeles is No. 18 in fast break points and No. 20 with points off turnovers after finishing no. 2 and no. 1 respectively last year, per the TNT broadcast.
On Thursday, though, Lob City showed up in full force in a 110-93 win against the Heat. The ball movement was plentiful and the Clippers were cognizant of when a good shoot could turn into a great one.
With Chris Paul at the helm, this is the stuff we saw nightly last year. The Heat failed all night to slow down the Clippers' pick-and-roll, either conceding room to the roll man or falling to far off tertiary options.
Blake Griffin showed just how many things he can do on the basketball court, scoring 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting while throwing in seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. On one fast break, Griffin beat his man down the court, got the ball deep in the paint and quickly scored the ball with a post move. A few plays later, he took the outlet pass and led the fast break as the point forward.
It may not have been the start to this season Clippers expected, but they're going to be fine.
3 other things we learned
Boogie leads the Kings to an impressive win against the Bulls. DeMarcus Cousins finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, his ninth double-double already this season, and Rudy Gay 20 points on 11 shots as the Kings pulled past Chicago and moved to 7-5. But it wasn't just those two, as role players all around Sacramento stepped up. Omri Casspi hit all five shots he attempted, Derrick Williams scored 10 points, nearly doubling his season total coming into the game (11), and Ben McLemore hit three 3-pointers in four attempts.
Chicago is now 3-3 after a 5-1 start. The Bulls were missing Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol against the Kings, and despite Jimmy Butler's best efforts (23 points on 11-of-18 shooting), just didn't have enough offense to stick with Sacramento down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Chicago's biggest problem this year will be injuries -- Derrick Rose has still only five of 12 games this year while Gasol and Joakim Noah each will have their own various ailments through the season. In the Eastern Conference, they'll be okay with those trio missing games sporadically throughout the season, but if they can't get all three healthy during the playoffs, Chicago won't survive long.
There were no new developments in the DeMarcus Cousins - Mike Dunleavy beef. This was the biggest disappointment of the night. I know what you're thinking, and yes, those two have a beef. The game was physical, the Bulls got a couple of technical fouls and it certainly seemed like there were chances for an elbow here or there, but alas, we'll have to wait until Feb. 10 for this rivalry to continue in Chicago.
Play of the Night
When you leave DeAndre Jordan alone in the paint on defense, bad things are going to happen.
5 fun things
Of course Brad Miller and Joakim Noah are friends. Of course they have a special high five.
But when you're close friends with someone, they sometimes let you see a different side of them up close and in person.
The Kings didn't dry clean Chris Webber's jersey before retiring it.
NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal is definitely not going into the face cookie game hall of fame.
Al Jefferson, tell us why NBA Live hurt you.