The Clippers' regular season is now half over and the team already won as many games as it did all of last season.
Whether that's saying much depends on your point of view -- the Clippers, after all, remain under .500 at 19-22 -- but they defeated the Chicago Bulls, 104-97, in their first meeting of the season Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The Clippers won only 19 games all of last season while losing 63, with that 19th victory not arriving until April 10.
Led by point guard Baron Davis' 23 points and late-game hustle, the Clippers' offensive power also was spread among several players, with center Chris Kaman scoring 20 points and forward Al Thornton adding 17.
Forward Marcus Camby, meanwhile, had a season-high 25 rebounds.
"We didn't make it easy on ourselves," Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "But down the stretch we made some big stops" as the Bulls slashed the Clippers' once-sizable lead.
Now the Clippers leave town for an eight-game trip, starting with the first-place Denver Nuggets tonight, and the Clippers are again hobbled with new injuries.
Starting guard Eric Gordon sprained his left big toe in the third quarter and did not return to the game. Dunleavy said he didn't know whether Gordon would be available tonight.
And reserve guard Sebastian Telfair pulled a groin muscle and won't immediately travel to Denver so that he can be examined today in Los Angeles, Dunleavy said.
For much of the game, both teams briefly enjoyed big leads yet were unable to hold them, befitting two teams with nearly identical subpar records.
The Clippers, for instance, jumped out to an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter and then struggled to maintain it, with Chicago slashing the lead to four points late in the game before Davis took charge.
"I just wanted to be aggressive and do all that I could," Davis said. "I wanted to kind of save it for when we needed it."
For the Bulls, guard Derrick Rose scored 23 points and forward Luol Deng added 19.
The Clippers said rookie forward Blake Griffin underwent successful surgery to repair his damaged knee at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Center in Los Angeles.
Griffin, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NBA draft, suffered a stress fracture at the bottom of his left kneecap during the Clippers' final preseason game Oct. 23.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the 75-minute operation, said before Wednesday's game that the surgery went exactly as planned. "If you had to design how this day would go, this is how I would have dreamed it up," he said.
Griffin, 20, is expected to be on crutches for about three weeks and his overall rehabilitation from the surgery is expected to take four to six months.
With half of his rookie season under his belt, Bulls forward and former USC standout Taj Gibson said he's adapting to the NBA.
"Things are going well," said Gibson, adding that "a lot of friends and extended family members" were on hand Wednesday night as he scored four points in 11 minutes against the Clippers.
Gibson, who first returned to Southern California for Chicago last November against the Lakers, had averaged 8.5 points and 24.3 minutes of playing time this season entering Wednesday's game.
He acknowledged that NBA defenses are "tough" and that he was "still learning, still adjusting. But so far it's been good."