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Clippers have something more to prove

They've gotten attention with a 16-game winning streak. Playing five games against quality opponents this week is another stiff test.

December 29, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Blake Griffin and the Clippers will take on the Jazz again on Sunday night.
Blake Griffin and the Clippers will take on the Jazz again on Sunday night. (Rick Bowmer / Associated…)

As the Clippers roll over opponent after opponent, building momentum and a franchise-best winning streak in the process, they can't afford to admire their work.

That's because this week of games will present another stiff challenge.

The Clippers will play five games this week, and only one of the opponents has a record below .500.

The Utah Jazz dropped to 15-16 after blowing a 19-point, third-quarter lead against the Clippers in Salt Lake City on Friday night.

Utah gets a shot at revenge when the Jazz plays the Clippers on Sunday night at Staples Center.

"This is going to be a great test for us," Blake Griffin said. "These last two games, [Thursday against Boston and Friday at Utah] were a good test for us. Coming up starting with Utah and then going on the road for two, it's all going to be a challenge."

The challenge is not only trying to keep alive a winning streak, now at 16 games, but it is also trying to do so in games played on successive nights.

The Clippers, who beat the Nuggets on Christmas night, will travel to again face Denver (17-15), this time on New Year's night, and will play at Golden State (21-10) the next night.

Then the Clippers, who didn't practice Saturday, will host the Lakers (15-15) on Friday night in the Clippers' designated home game at Staples Center, followed by a Dec. 5 game against the Warriors at Staples in another back-to-back set.

"It's a challenge, but we've got to take it one game at a time," Chris Paul said. "We can't look past anybody."

And that means not worrying about the winning streak.

Still, the Clippers have a chance to go 16-0 this month with a win over Utah.

If so, the Clippers would join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs and 1971-72 Lakers as one of only three teams to do so.

"Before each game, we're not worried about the streak," Griffin said. "We're worried about coming out and executing, and if we win, we win. Then we move on to the next one."

Improving at the line

The Clippers aren't good free-throw shooters, making just 72.1%, fifth-worst in the NBA.

They are weighed down by Griffin (63.9%) and center DeAndre Jordan (41.7%).

But against the Jazz, the Clippers made 33 of 41 free throws, including 15 of 16 in the fourth quarter when Paul made seven of eight.

Griffin made his only attempt in the fourth, finishing eight for nine from the line.

Jordan was two for two in the fourth, finishing four for six.

"Making free throws is always good for your confidence," Griffin said. "Making shots is good for your confidence. So, to make free throws, it helps."

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