Tight-knit Clippers rolling along

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clippers‘ Christmas sweaters were terrible. Hideous actually. Each one uglier than the next. Chris Paul walked into the Clippers’ locker room with a sweater vest stitched with a Christmas tree and ornaments. Blake Griffin rolled in with a knitted vest over snowman pajamas. And Matt Barnes looked like a walking Christmas present with ribbons and bows placed on his sweater by his twin boys. Christmas Day games have become old hat for the team down the hall. The Los Angeles Lakers have played on Christmas Day every year since 1999. This is only the third time the Clippers have played on Christmas Day since 1992. What was once viewed as a nuisance by players and coaches is now viewed as a sign of respect from the league. “It usually means you’re doing something right,” Paul said. “You’re on a guy like Blake Griffin’s team.” There was no way Paul was going to let this day go by without doing something to commemorate the occasion. Not only did every player arrive to Staples Center wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, but they all brought “Secret Santa” gifts for one another as well. These aren’t activities in which most NBA teams partake. Then again, the Clippers aren’t most NBA teams. They are, at least according to the standings, the best team in the NBA. After beating the Denver Nuggets, 112-100, for their first home win on Christmas Day, the Clippers are not only a league-best 22-6, but they have won a franchise-best 14 straight games, the longest streak in the NBA this season. Calling the Clippers the best team in Los Angeles, let alone the NBA, used to be the setup to a played out punch line. Anyone who has watched the Clippers this season, however, realizes they’re far from a punch line and their success this season is far from an aberration. After the Lakers defeated the New York Knicks earlier in the day at Staples Center, Dwight Howard smiled when he was told the Lakers were now 14-14 after winning five in a row. “We’re .500?” he said. “Yes! I knew this day would come.” While Howard was celebrating the Lakers’ 14th win of the season, the Clippers were trying to keep their 14th consecutive win in perspective. The Clippers didn’t begin this season with aspirations of winning 14 straight or starting 22-6 or winning on Christmas Day. Their expectations have always been much higher. CONTINUE READING

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