Chris Paul wasn’t about to let his team lose its 15-game win streak, not like that. So in Utah on Friday night, down 19 points halfway through the third quarter, CP3 broke out the defibrillator and shocked life back into the Clippers. Why’s that impressive? Well, the 16-game streak is the longest since the Celtics had a 19-gamer in 2008. Two, Salt Lake City is not an easy place to play even in the post-Sloan era and the Clippers struggle there â€” they’ve gone 20-61 there all-time. Three, mental toughness was not something associated with this franchise until recently â€” oh, about the time CP3 and Chauncey Billups arrived, to be honest. The will to win they’ve provided, even with Billups either out or as a bit player, are remaking this franchise before our eyes, and Friday night was a microcosm of that. The Clips didn’t hold a lead from halfway through the second quarter until two minutes left in the fourth, but they still dug out a 116-114 win. Paul had 29 points and had the last seven points, playing like last season when he got the ball on every major possession late. His crossover made Gordon Hayward stumble just enough on a one-on-one with 22 seconds left to give him space for a jumpe to go up three. Then, down two, Randy Foye (28 points) couldn’t get a call when he pump-faked Matt Barnes up a little and got bumped. No foul was called, and that was the ballgame. Blake Griffin added 22 points and 14 rebounds. … A funny thing happened in Detroit for Miami. Without Dwyane Wade or an answer to diminutive Will Bynum (doesn’t he seem like best-case scenario for Norris Cole‘s career?) and his 25 points, the Heat actually lost to the Pistons, 109-99. LeBron James tried his hardest to pull the Heat from the wreckage of this one, but his 35 points, six boards, five assists and six steals, combined with 28 points from Chris Bosh, didn’t get much teammate support. It was kind of like watching a pitcher throw a two-hitter but lose 1-0. No one else scored more than nine points for Miami as their six-game losing streak was snapped. Charlie Villanueva poured in four-of-five from three and the Pistons were 12-of-19 from range. … Miami said before the game it disagreed loudly with Dwyane Wade‘s suspension for kicking Ramon Sessions. You have to stand up for your guy if you’re Miami, so no surprise there. Still, did they see the replay? … The Wizards’ eight-game losing streak came against a Magic team without Big Baby for about four more weeks, but they’ll take it. Jordan Crawford had 27 in a 105-97 win. … Even when things aren’t peachy for Brooklyn, things are still worse for Charlotte, now owners of a 17-game losing streak. Brook Lopez had 26 in a 97-81 win. Zero turnovers, 50 percent shooting and 19 points for Deron Williams? Now that’s more like it. … In other games George Hill had 22 points to overcome Bassy’s 19 points and six dimes for Phoenix in a 97-91 Pacers win. … Hit the jump to hear about the other L.A. team. …
All those worries about the other L.A. team, the Lakers, sure looked unfounded Friday night â€” and, yes, there are worries still about them. Normally we wouldn’t give too much credence to a win over a rebuilding Trail Blazers team but L.A.’s 104-87 win over a confident Blazers team was noted for its thoroughness. Kobe didn’t even play in the fourth quarter and still had 27 points because the Lakers’ biggest lead was 27 points, too. Now both teams are at .500. You wonder if this flawed Laker team, even with a big win over a flawed Portland squad, will use this win as a springboard. Dwight Howard‘s 21 points and 14 boards came so fast against J.J. Hickson that he looked like he didn’t know what was happening to him. (We wrote about how Hickson’s nine-game double-double streak was powering Portland to an eighth spot so far in the West, but noted how his defense is clearly his game’s worst part. Coupled with being 6-9, against Howard, he was exposed). Damian Lillard had 11 points and four assists on 4-of-17 shooting. … After four games of averaging seven points per, O.J. Mayo got back to his old self against Denver. Too bad Danilo Gallinari was white-hot to counter Mayo’s comeback game in a 106-85 Nuggets win. Gallo connected on seven triples to get 39 points. You could argue no five points were bigger than his three and buzzer-beating tip-in dunk in the final five seconds of the second quarter, turning a three-point Nugs’ lead (off a mini-Mavs rally) into eight and making Mark Cuban give a look like he’d just heard the worst “Shark Tank” business plan of all time. Mayo had 15 points and, yikes, six turnovers, but he was more active in pursuing his shots even with Dirk alongside him. … James Johnson‘s buzzer-beating three bailed out the Kings, 106-105, and beat the Knicks. John Salmons took a wild pass in the corner but was covered, so he threw a skip pass to Johnson who didn’t think twice with the shot. The win was a Band-Aid over the drama between DeMarcus Cousins (15 and 10) and coach Keith Smart, who almost kept Boogie out a second game. That situation doesn’t seem like it will last the season. … Jeff Teague (27 points) and Kyrie Irving (28 points) had an entertaining duel in Atlanta’s 102-94 win over Cleveland. The Cavaliers didn’t score in the final two and a half minutes so see a lead slip away. … In other games DeMar DeRozan had 30 in Toronto’s 104-97 win over the Hornets. David Lee‘s 23 and 12 in the post for the Warriors was better than Jrue Holiday‘s 21 and 10 at point guard and Golden State beat Philly 96-89. … We’re out like CP3.
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