The Rise and Fall of Lob City

For the Los Angeles Clippers, this last season was:

  • Their 7th straight season winning 60-percent or more games;
  • Their 6th straight season with 50 or more wins;
  • Their 2d season in a row losing in the first round; and
  • Their 47th season in a row failing to reach the conference finals.

They are the only NBA team history to win 60-percent of their games for six years in a row or more and not reach the conference finals.  They are one of four teams to have won 300 or more games the last seven years:

  • San Antonio Spurs (353-123): 4 Conference Finals, 2 Finals, 1 Championship
  • Golden State Warriors (328-148): 3 Conference Finals, 2 Finals, 1 Championship
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (313-163): 3 Conference Finals, 1 Finals
  • Los Angeles Clippers (313-163): nothing

This has led many to conclude the Clippers will need to break up their Big-3 combo of Chris Paul,  Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan that once made them legitimate title contenders – but no more.

Below is a summary of the rise and fall of Lob City.

2012: Clippers Win First Playoff Series

clippers2

Record Place GB 
Conf #1
PPG OPPG Top Scorer Top Assist Top
Reb
Big 3 Games Started
40-26 2nd 10 97.5
(14th)
95.0
(13th)
Blake Griffin
(20.7)
Chris Paul
(9.1)
Blake Griffin
(10.9)
 192

Coach Vinnie Del Negro led the Clippers to only their fourth winning season since moving to Los Angeles in 1984 and their first since 2006. In the playoffs, the Clippers stunned the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of the opening round with a 24-point fourth quarter comeback – the biggest comeback in playoff history. The Clippers could go on to win the series 4-3, their first playoff series win since moving from Buffalo, before being swept by San Antonio.

2013: First Division Title

clippers3

Record Place GB 
Conf #1
PPG OPPG Top Scorer Top Assist Top
Reb
Big 3 Games Started
56-26 1st 4 101.1 (9th) 94.6 (4th) Blake Griffin
(18.0)
Chris Paul
(9.7)
Blake Griffin
(8.3)
 232

The Clippers’ first 50-win season and only their second consecutive playoff appearance gave them their first division title.  All this was marred by their blowing a 2-0 series lead and losing 4-2 to Memphis in the opening round.

2014: End of Donald Sterling

clippers4

Record Place GB 
Conf #1
PPG OPPG Top Scorer Top Assist Top
Reb
Big 3 Games Started
57-25 1st 5 107.9 (1st) 101.0 (14th) Blake Griffin
(24.1)
Chris Paul
(10.7)
Blake Griffin
(13.6)
 234

The 2014 season brought significant changes.  New coach Doc Rivers led the Clippers to what remains their franchise best record with the league’s top offense, while Donald Sterling’s racial scandal led to his ouster at the end of the season.

clippers5

The Clippers overcame the confusion caused by Sterling to beat the Golden State Warriors (4-3) in the first round, before blowing an opportunity to take a 3-2 lead against Oklahoma City back to the Staple Center and losing 4-2 to the Thunder in the Conference semifinals.

2015: An Epic Win and Epic Collapse

clippers 6

Record Place GB 
Conf #1
PPG OPPG Top Scorer Top Assist Top
Reb
Big 3 Games Started
56-26 2nd 11 106.7 (2nd) 100.1 (16th) Blake Griffin
(21.9)
Chris Paul
(10.2)
D. Jordan
(15)
 231

The Clippers were tied with the Houston Rockets for the second best record in the conference, but unfortunately the top spot went to division rival Golden State.  The Clippers seemed destined for a much anticipated rematch with the Warriors after beating the Spurs in a dramatic seven game series.

clippers 7

In the semifinals, the Clippers took a 3-1 lead against the Rockets – winning by 16, 25 and 33 points.  The Rockets won Game 5 in Houston by 21 points, but back in Los Angeles the Clippers were less than 15-minutes from going to the Conference Finals leading by 19 points late in Game 6.  Then came an epic collapse in which the Rockets won by 12 points and then beat the Clippers by 13 in Houston to advance to play Golden State.

2016: Injuries Take Their Toll

clippers 8

Record Place GB 
Conf #1
PPG OPPG Top Scorer Top Assist Top
Reb
Big 3 Games Started
53-29 2nd 20 104.5 (7th) 100.2 (7th) Blake Griffin
(21.4)
Chris Paul
(10.0)
D. Jordan
(13.8)
186

Injuries would define the season, with Blake Griffin starting only 35 games  As Golden State set the record for 73-win season and the San Antonio Spurs were not far behind with 67, the Clippers were becoming less of a contender.

In the playoffs, the team collapsed again after both Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were injured and the Portland Trailblazers swept the last four games to win 4-2.

2017: Another First Round Collapse

clippers 9

Record Place GB 
Conf #1
PPG OPPG Top Scorer Top Assist Top
Reb
Big 3 Games Started
51-31 2nd 16 108.7 (6th) 104.4 (12th) Blake Griffin
(21.6)
Chris Paul
(9.2)
D. Jordan
(13.8)
203

Injuries again defined the Clipper season, as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul each missed 21 games.  While the Clippers were hobbled they fell further behind rival Golden State with the edition of Kevin Durant.

Griffin would injure himself again early in the opening round of the playoffs against the Utah Jazz.  The Clippers collapsed again, losing three games at home  – including the decisive game 7.

 

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