The NBA: Clipper-town

Blake Griffin and the Clippers are flying high and
owning Los Angeles. For now.
(image by Harry How/Getty Images)

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are by the Associated Press.

All of a sudden the Clippers seem for real.

Check that.

VERY for real. (Umm... just forgive the syntax)

They’ve won 5 of their 6 games in 2012 with the Blazers, Heat and now the Lakers counted amongst their victims. They’re #3 in the West and #1 in the Pacific.

That’s what happens when a team is shaken up. Well, sometimes. Even if the guys they let go are miffed to the max. But, right now, nobody’s really complaining that Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon are no longer around.

The Clips are top 6 in PPG and top 8 in FG%. Chris Paul has upped his scoring, FG%, 3PT% and steals from last season, Chauncey Billups’s 3PT% has jumped from just 33% last year to 38% now, and DeAndre Jordan is second in blocks at 3.0 per game. And with Blake Griffin and Caron Butler playing steady at the two forward spots (BG and CP3 should make the All-Star team no questions asked), the erstwhile “other” LA team has seemingly claimed top shelf status.

And beating the Lakers for the third time since acquiring Butle, Billups and Paul (counting the two preseason games) is much more than icing on the cake. The Lakeshow has lost to the new-look Clippers by an average of 10.7 points per game, and the last one happened even as Kobe strung uphis fourth 40+ game in a row.

The two LA teams will butt heads two more times this season, but, at least until January 25 US time, Los Angeles is Clipper-town.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

CHA over GSW, 112-100 – Kemba Walker unloads 23 on the hapless Warriors as the Cats stop a losing skein.
ATL over MIN, 93-91 – Close one in Atlanta, but Jeff Teague’s 20-point and 10-assist night delivers the goods for the Hawks.
IND over BOS, 97-83 – Boston is in a bad way, and the Pacers sure made them feel it.
PHI over WAS, 103-90 – Sixers remain impressive in the young season. This time it’s old reliable Andre Iguodala who leads them with 23 points, 7 boards and 5 dimes.
OKC over NYK, 104-92 – Jet Zero pounds New York just 2 rebounds and 2 assists shy of a triple-double.
MEM over NOH, 108-99 – Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay lead the way as the Grizz live on despite Zebo’s injury.
HOU over POR, 107-105 – Kyle Lowry continues to make heads turn with 33 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds.
CHI over TOR, 77-64 – Low-scoring one at the United Center, but the Bulls pull this one out as D-Rose sparkles with a double-double.
DAL over SAC, 99-60 – B L O W N O U T. Scores like this should have no place at this level.
UTA over NJN, 107-94 – Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson have given a lot of opposing frontlines headaches this season. The latest victim? The tangled Nets.
LAC over LAL, 102-94 – Clips own LA. For now.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 42
Kyle Lowry (HOU) & Chris Paul (LAC) – 33
Kevin Love (MIN) – 30
Nicolas Batum (POR) – 29

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Javale McGee (WAS) – 18
David Lee (GSW) & Andrew Bynum (LAL) – 16

Javale McGee has been impressive down low for the Wizards,
but even his presence hasn't translated into wins.
Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 12
Derrick Rose (CHI) – 11
Jeff Teague (ATL) – 10

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Jason Kidd (DAL) – 6
Andre Iguodala (PHI) & Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 5

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Javale McGee (WAS) – 5
Nicolas Batum (POR) & Josh Smith (ATL) – 4

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Nicolas Batum (POR) – 6
Lou Williams (PHI) & Chauncey Billups (LAC) – 4

Nicolas Batum showed his versatility even as the Blazers
were dumped by the Rockets out West.
Jan. 14, 2012 First Five
C – Javale McGee (WAS) – 23pts, 18rebs, 5blks, 2stls, 1ast
F – Kevin Love (MIN) – 30pts, 13rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 1blk
F – Kobe Bryant (LAL) – 42pts, 7rebs, 4asts, 2stls, 1blk
G – Kyle Lowry (HOU) – 33pts, 9asts, 8rebs, 3 triples, 1stl
G – Chris Paul (LAC) – 33pts, 6asts, 4rebs, 3 triples, 3stls

Kobe Bryant scored 40 or more points for the
fourth straight game. Too bad they lost.

Honorable Mention:
Nicolas Batum (POR) – 29pts, 8rebs, 6 triples, 4blks, 1ast, 1stl
David Lee (GSW) – 24pts, 16rebs, 3asts, 1blk
Russell Westbrook (OKC) – 21pts, 8rebs, 8asts, 3stls

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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