There wasn’t as much drama to this Clippers win over the Jazz, but even more significance came with it. L.A., you see, hasn’t lost in a pure month after beating Utah, 107-96. In their 17-game win streak, 16 of them came in December. It’s only the third 16-0 month in NBA history, after the ’72 Lakers and ’96 Spurs, though the ’96 Bulls went 14-0 in January during their 72-10 season. Unlike Friday’s dramatic win in SLC, the Clippers didn’t have to rally from 19 points down. It was just a steady diet of Caron Butler (29 points and a perfect 6-6 from three), Jamal Crawford’s big buckets off the bench (especially to start the fourth quarter) with a layup and a triple in a row, and at least one show-stopper play: Chris Paul‘s rainbow fast-break assist in the first quarter, underhanded with just his right paw to DeAndre Jordan . Even though Jordan hasn’t broken out of his one-trick dunk pony (he’s getting 9.1 points and seven rebounds per game in just 24 minutes over the last 17 games) reputation much during this streak, his oops have been filthy. CP3 had 19 points, nine dimes and five steals. No team can keep this up for a season, so the questions now become, when the Clips lose this momentum (and they will), how long will it take to reclaim and can they time it to arrive in the playoffs? … The Celtics know that even though DeMarcus Cousins and his coach, Keith Smart, are clashing regularly, the offense still flows through the Kings’ young center. Also understanding he’s one of the few players who can get his shot on that roster, they doubled him — which turned out to really show how talented Cousins can be. His first triple-double came on 12 points, 10 boards and 10 dimes, though a good number of those assists came when he’d get the ball at the elbow and charge to the rim before getting kick-out assists in the 118-96 win. Taken from a Celtics perspective, this is a bad loss. Sacramento didn’t even have Tyreke or Aaron Brooks, and Marcus Thornton, practically the rudder on this team lately, didn’t return after hurting his ankle in the first half. (Isaiah Thomas took advantage for 27 points) It’s the third straight loss for the C’s. Rajon Rondo had 10 assists but just two points. He barely even shot, going 1-for-6 from the field, and got to the free-throw line a whopping zero times. Boston’s starting five: six FTA. Sacramento’s starting five: 20 FTA. … Troubling news for the career of Royce White. The Rockets’ rookie refused his assignment to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, still adamant only he should choose his attending doctor. He called out the Rockets’ front office in a 500-word statement where he called their decisionmaking “unsafe.” Yikes. … … Hit the jump to read about the all kinds of trouble Dallas is in. …
Tony Parker‘s air-foul on a rebound earned him a flopping warning. Watch how on the replay, the Spurs’ bench is perfectly in tune with Parker’s pantomime leap forward by asking for a foul. No wonder this team is so good â€” they work every angle, from Timmy D‘s bank shot to a foul here, and a foul there. It all adds up. … All the Spurs’ work added up to too much for Dallas to handle, too, on Sunday. The Mavericks are going through the kind of growing pains with Dirk back that ideally could have happened during training camp, while the Spurs are on their crazy “Dazed and Confused” kick: Their roster keeps getting younger, but they stay the same, excellent franchise. The old hands had a huge part of this win with 21 and nine assists for Parker, whose defender Darren Collison was caught trailing Parker on his drives down the lane so often it was almost as if he were doing a training exercise to work on his recovery speed or chase-down blocks. But no, it was just Parker using his simple left-to-right hesitation cross to perfection again. Manu Ginobili added 20 points off the bench and Duncan went for 18 points and 10 boards. Those three combined for just six turnovers. … Collison had 18 points and five assists to lead Dallas, which couldn’t even get a moral victory from seeing Dirk improve. He hoisted an airball on a pull-up three on the break. Basketball-reference.com’s “event finder” search engine is powerful but wasn’t able to pull up the last time one of his shots looked that out of sync. Dallas doesn’t get a break in its schedule in the next 10 games by playing Oklahoma City, Miami, Houston, the Clippers and Memphis. Utah is still better than the Mavs, too, and they play in the stretch as well. … Break up the Pistons and Bucks! Both teams beat Miami in the last week, a stretch played up less as the Heat’s “Lost Weekend” in Milwaukee and Detroit and instead as a sign those teams have turned a proverbial corner. If they did, it was right into a proverbial wall for Milwaukee, who didn’t score until eight minutes left in the first quarter, suddenly down 13-0. They’d walk it back all the way to a tie game when Ersan Ilyasova drained a three with less than two to go, but Tayshaun Prince (20 points) calmly sank both free throws with 13 seconds left, Monta Ellis (30 points, nine boards) missed a game-tying awkward floater from the right elbow and Detroit held on, 96-94. … Andre Drummond‘s minutes have been cut to nearly half of his 36 the day after Christmas, but he’s not playing like he’s hanging his head. He got eight points, seven boards and two blocks in 19 minutes. … We’re out like Royce White, again.
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