For a team that often seems like second-class citizens in its own arena, the Los Angeles Clippers are certainly making Staples Center feel like home lately.
The Clippers seek their first six-game home winning streak in more than three years Sunday afternoon against the Miami Heat, who began their longest road trip of the season in impressive fashion.
Los Angeles (16-18) came home from a six-game trip having lost its last three in blowout fashion, but it’s gotten back on track in playing four of its last five in comfortable surroundings.
The Clippers beat Boston 92-90 behind a big game from Chris Kaman(notes) on Dec. 27, and they’ve won their last three by double digits. The latest was the most significant, as 25 points from Baron Davis(notes) and 21 from Kaman paved the way to a 102-91 win Wednesday over the defending champion Lakers, snapping a nine-game slide against their Staples Center co-tenants.
“That’s what we need, tough games,” said Davis, who’s averaged 19.2 points and 10.0 assists in his last five contests. “We need the challenge. I didn’t think we had one quarter where we lacked the intensity that we needed to win.”
A victory over the Heat (18-16) would give Los Angeles six straight at Staples Center for the first time since Nov. 2-18, 2006. Miami has lost six of its last eight road meetings with the Clippers.
Having Davis healthy after he missed 17 games last season has certainly been a boost to the Clippers, but it’s Kaman’s emergence as a potential All-Star that has them thinking about their first playoff appearance in four years. Kaman has at least 20 points in 11 of the last 12 games, averaging 23.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.
In addition, injured No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin(notes) could make his NBA debut within the next two weeks and Eric Gordon(notes) has averaged 18.8 points on 53.4 percent shooting during the five-game home winning streak.
“Our chemistry is coming together,” Davis said. “… Eric has been a tremendous force. He stretches the defense, which creates a lot more offensive space and freedom.”
The Heat have won two of three following a three-game losing streak and rebounded from a 112-106 overtime loss to Boston on Wednesday with an outstanding start to their six-game trip.
“We didn’t break after the Celtic game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We bounced back with a spirited workout and then to come in to a very tough place to play, we got a lot of contributions.”
Michael Beasley(notes) had 21 points after being held to five against Boston and Dorell Wright(notes) added 15 off the bench, but the most pleasant spark came from point guard Rafer Alston(notes). Signed after being waived by New Jersey on Tuesday, Alston started and scored 10—all in the second half—in his second stint with Miami.
“It was good to see No. 11 back,” Wade said of Alston, who averaged 10.2 points and 4.5 assists for the Heat in 2003-04. “He made us get out and push the game.”
Wade has averaged 29.9 points and 8.9 assists in his last seven games against Los Angeles, and Beasley averaged 21.0 points last season as the teams split two meetings.
Kaman has missed the last three games versus Miami due to injury.