Eric Gordon's game returns just in time
The Clippers' top scorer blasted out of a slump to help his team win its third straight
LOS ANGELES -- Over the weekend, the Clippers showed they could win games without big performances from Eric Gordon.
Monday, they showed it still helps to get them.
Gordon scored a season-high 36 points in a 113-90 home win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, rebounding nicely from a personal three-game skid that coincided oddly with the start of a rare Clippers winning streak.
Gordon added six assists and five steals and was also particularly hot from beyond the arc. His five 3s -- on only seven attempts -- were more than he had made from long range in a game since his rookie season.
But on this night, Gordon's most redeeming quality was, well, his ability to take what his teammates gave him -- in contrast to his occasional disappearing act that kept reappearing in consecutive road games against the 76ers, Pistons and Bulls.
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"We are playing more as a team and we are just playing well together right now," Gordon said. "During this past road trip we told each other that we have nothing to lose and that we just need to buckle down and play as a team."
"I think he was a little bit more aggressive tonight," said Davis, who had a season-high 12 assists and eight points as the Clippers built their first winning streak since February. "But, yeah, it opened up for him. I thought guys set some good screen-and-rolls for him and he just did a great job of reading the defense."
Gordon had 14 points in the first quarter, 18 before he took his first rest early in the second and 31 by the time he sat down with a minute to go in the third quarter and the Clippers up by 17.
He would play five minutes in the final period, adding a 3-pointer (assisted by Ryan Gomes) and a layup (pass from Davis) to finish with 36 points on only 23 shots.
He had averaged just over 15 points and shot 38 percent from the field in his previous three games.
"Tonight was one of those nights where he got going offensively, and once he gets on a roll like that he's tough to guard," Davis said. "He's been doing a great job of sticking with it."
It's not like Gordon hasn't been having a banner year. His 23.4 points-per-game average leads the team and he has, night in and night out, been a great go-to option for a team desperately in need of one.
He just did it again Monday.
"He was attacking the rim, picking his spots," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He had a lot of shots but he shot a very good percentage. He had some layups and things on the break when they double-teamed. We got some 3s going for him.
"Just a solid game."
A solid game was exactly what the Clippers needed in their attempt to reverse course on the Timberwolves. When these teams matched up just over a month ago in Minnesota, the Wolves came out on top by virtue of a 15-footer from Michael Beasley with 2.3 seconds to play.
With back-to-back road wins over Detroit and Chicago now in tow, the Clippers were determined to patch together their first three-game win streak since last season -- and they did so handily, beating the Wolves in every quarter and every facet of the game.
The Clippers shot better, rebounded better, passed the ball better. Griffin, in particular, played solid-and-sometimes-great defense on Minnesota forward Kevin Love, electrified the team with two alley-oop dunks on exceptional passes from Davis and shot 75 percent from the field.
This night was clearly the Clippers'. L.A. is now an almost-respectable 5-6 in December, with the six losses coming by an average of just over six points.
It's obvious this team is not the same one that stunk up the place in October and November with just three wins in 18 tries.
Final notes: Griffin extended his double-double streak to 16 games by grabbing five rebounds in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. ... Reserve forward Craig Smith missed the game with back spasms and is scheduled to undergo an MRI. He played 21 minutes in the Clippers' road win over the Bulls on Saturday. ... The 68 points the Clippers scored in the first half were a season high for a half.