The Showtime Los Angeles Clippers rolled into Charlotte and over the Bobcats on Wednesday.
The numbers: The Clippers played their fourth game within five days; they won their eighth straight; Charlotte lost its ninth straight, this one 100-94.
The Bobcats played hard. This wasn’t the comatose group that lost its past three games to Milwaukee on the road (by 15) and at Time Warner Cable Arena to San Antonio (30) and Golden State (eight).
The Clippers are very good. They also are one of those teams you don’t appreciate until you see them.
“With everybody healthy we’re 13 deep,” forward Matt Barnes says about their semi-stealth status. “We know what our ultimate goal is. We’re a very deep and a very talented team and we’ve got everybody on the same page.”
You’re entertaining, too.
“That’s good,” says Barnes, who scored 13 during the second half and 19 for the game.
Less than a minute and a half in Chris Paul drew a foul from Charlotte’s Byron Mullens and flipped a shot underhanded toward the ceiling. It wouldn’t count, of course. But when it eventually came down, it went in, and fans cheered.
Paul hit Blake Griffin with outrageous alley-oop passes and Griffin went outrageously high to slam them in. Coming into the game, Griffin was fourth in the league in dunks and center DeAndre Jordan fifth.
Not sure the Clippers are icons, but they are entertainers. Any team with Paul, who grew up in Lewisville and starred at Wake Forest, is going to be.
It seems to be ingrained. Los Angeles forward Caron Butler went high for a slam that he knew would count for nothing more than style points and fell upon landing.
When fans yelled “Ohhhhhhhhh,” it usually was because of something Los Angeles did.
The Bobcats had moments. Kemba Walker offered the usual array of moves, changing direction and hanging in the air. But his best move was stopping Griffin, who might be a foot taller. Walker (17 points, six assists) was the lone player between Griffin and the hoop and he went after the big man. A two-man scrum ensued and the basketball bounced off Griffin out of bounds.
Mullens (19 points, eight rebounds) missed five of his first six field-goal attempts but made seven of his final nine. He also had two above-the-world dunks.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (11 points, eight rebounds) put a 360-degree spin move on former Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe and drove for an easy layup.
Kentucky coach John Calipari sat at courtside and warmly embraced Kidd-Gilchrist and Bledsoe before the game. Other celebrities in the house included North Carolina football coach Larry Fedora. More celebrities might have been there, but I didn’t recognize him.
Here’s what nobody missed: Even though the Clippers are No. 2 in their market in attention they don’t attract, they are one of the best teams in the NBA.
Their reserves are superb. Along with Barnes, Bledsoe added 13 points and Jamal Crawford nine. Los Angeles’ reserves accounted for 46 points, 28 rebounds and 12 assists, Charlotte’s 37 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
Coach Vinnie Del Negro (who played at N.C. State) has everybody working and hustling and staying together. After Paul surgically assembles his postgame outfit – jacket, bracelet, watch, glasses – he says: “We just got to keep playing the right way and keep this thing going.”
If you’re a fan of the game, you hope they do.