Win or lose on Sunday night in a home game against the Utah Jazz, it was still a month to remember for the Los Angeles Clippers. That's how it usually goes when you don't lose.
The Clippers entered with a 16-game winning streak and were in sole possession of first place in the Western Conference. It is a fine accomplishment and sets Los Angeles up for a record-setting season. This is a franchise, after all, that became synonymous with losing over the last 40 years. Relegated to little brother status even in their own arena thanks to the smothering presence of the Lakers, the Clippers were draft lottery staples.
There's a reason the franchise record for wins is just 49, and even that happened when the team played across the continent in Buffalo in 1974-75. In Los Angeles, the Clippers won 47 games in 2005-06 and played a memorable second-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. But they quickly slipped back to reality until the acquisition of star point guard Chris Paul before last season showed the Clippers were serious this time. They won 40 games during a lockout-shortened campaign and made it back to the conference semifinals.
After a four-game losing streak, including a home loss to woeful New Orleans, dropped Los Angeles' record to 8-6 on Nov. 26, it wasn't a given that the Clippers were ready to build on their 2011-12 season. But they've taken advantage of an easy schedule with 12 wins against teams with losing records and none against the other teams in NBA's top eight. Those games will come. And then the Clippers really will prove whether they're ready to reside in elite company.
- Brian McNally