Oh look, the Clippers showed up against New Orleans, win 111-90


It’ll be whether Chris Paul‘s contact with Anthony Davis that caused the All-NBA forward to leave the game — was carried off the floor — that’ll dominate discussion surrounding the Clippers and Pelicans’ first meeting of the season. But for the first time in a while, the Clippers looked to be “back” as the pieces of the puzzle were clicking from close to all cylinders in the team’s 111-90 season.

That means a quiet 17 point, 8 assist night in 28 minutes for Chris Paul.

A team-high 20 points from Blake Griffin (as well as 6 rebounds and 6 assists) and J.J. Redick, an encouraging performance for the shooting guard as back troubles have once again surfaced.

Lance Stephenson having his best game of the season, finishing with 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

A season-high 17 points from Austin Rivers.

And most importantly, holding the Pelicans to 90 points, continuing a trend of either defending poorly and allowing a gang of points or defending well and holding opponents below 100.

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  • It’s far from perfect but a step above the team’s performance in the team’s loss against the Utah Jazz, where a poor team effort — mainly, defense — wasted a 40-point night from Blake Griffin. Skating close to even after the opening quarter, it was the backcourt, both starting and reserve, that pushed the Clippers to a 35-point quarter, with 26 of the points scored coming from one of Redick, Paul, Stephenson, or Redick; following the half, the Clippers would skate to an easy victory, with injury to New Orleans’ Davis being the most notable moment of the half (per reports, there was no structural damage done to AD despite him being carried off the floor, after controversial contact with Paul — Paul flopped, but by my take, it was far from dirty; just an annoying, habitual flop).

    Unfortunately, it’s performances such as this that leaves the fanbase hanging for more. What Paul, Griffin, Jordan, and Redick do on a game-by-game basis has evolved into the norm; for two seasons, they’ve been — far and away — the most reliable persons on the team. It’s when you deviate outside of the quartet the uncertainty and inconsistency arises, but tonight, thanks mostly to Stephenson and Rivers, the bench was able to give the starters a much needed boost.

    Now’s a matter of carrying the momentum into the next game, against the wildly entertaining Minnesota Timberwolves led by Andrew Wiggins and 2015-16 Rookie of the Year frontrunner Karl-Anthony Towns. With depth, they’ll provide a greater fight that whatever exists on the Pelicans’ bench but the talent is there on the Clippers’ end to string off two good games — and for the team’s sake as they wade in the waters of Western Conference mediocrity, several games — in a row.

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    Because the right momentum could stead the ship and curve any discussions that involve the Clippers being far less than what was expected of them coming into the season. From now until Dec. 16, the Clippers will face the T’Wolves twice, Trail Blazers, Pacers, Magic, Bulls, Nets, Pistons, and Bucks (2x) before a tough stretch that begins with their first season matchup against the San Antonio Spurs. As a supposed championship contender, it’s expected of this Clippers team to finish the mentioned stretch favorably; going 10-0 through this 10-game stretch probably won’t happen but winning at least eight of the games is a feasible task.

    But given how this Clippers team has performed so far, even that may be asking for too much, so for now, it’s a mild celebration on the middling group gaining a win over the Pelicans.