Published November 20, 2014
I haven't seen any signs of the meek inheriting the earth just yet unless Matthew was talking about the Los Angeles Clippers.
The NBA's resident doormat has gone from the outhouse to the penthouse in almost record time by adding Chris Paul to Blake Griffin, a big step up for a franchise that was used to throwing out names like Danny Manning and Ron Harper as the measuring stick for success.
Of course achievement in the NBA is as black and white as it gets, ultimately decided by wins and losses as well as championships. Relevance precedes that kind of jump, however, and if butts in the seats and YouTube hits are any indication, this Clippers team has already arrived.
Vinny Del Negro's club has sold out Staples Center for all 13 of its home games this season. Meanwhile, Griffin's amazing slam over Kendrick Perkins late last month went viral and blew up every social media site there is.
It might not be Showtime but Lob City is officially a part of the NBA's elite and they're set up to be for a lengthy time.
Paul was the final piece to the puzzle. The All-Star point guard has fit in magnificently since being acquired from New Orleans after the lockout and is the only NBA player averaging over 19 ppg with 9-plus assists and at least two steals. As those numbers indicate CP3 can do it all, score, distribute and defend.
He's also a closer, hitting the game-winner with 3.2 seconds remaining to dispose of a tough Philadelphia team, 78-77, on Friday.
"One thing I pride myself on is ball handling," said Paul. "I may not make every shot but I feel like I can get any shot that I want because of ball handling. I've always been undersized, so one thing I know is that I can create my own shot."
"He's the security blanket," Del Negro added. "Get it in his hands. he's always been like that. Not only can he score but he's going to make the right play and that's what great players do. It's not always about scoring the basketball but making the right play. He takes pressure off everybody else and makes the game easier for the guys."
Griffin, meanwhile, is the only player in the NBA averaging over 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists per game and would be only the fourth in 22 years to turn that trick if he keeps up the pace.
It would be nice if Griffin developed a little craftiness on the blocks to go along with the raw athleticism and power but he teams with shot-blocking machine DeAndre Jordan to give Vinny Del Negro perhaps the most physically imposing 4-5 combo in the entire NBA. In fact, Griffin and Jordan are both among the top five in dunks in the NBA.
"This is as aggressive and active a front line as any we play," Sixers coach Doug Collins said.
The Clippers just didn't have it offensively in Philadelphia but kept coming and coming at the Sixers. It's not often you see a player dominate without scoring but that's exactly what Evans did against Philly, using his effort and energy to wreak havoc.
"We couldn't run a play," Collins said. "They just physically were so strong for us around the basket. We just couldn't come up with some rebounds. Look at the stat sheet, they shoot under 39 percent, they shoot 11 percent from three with 14 assists and win the game and it's a shame."
Evans finished the contest with 10 rebounds -- five offensive -- in 19 minutes of action and was all over the floor, even disturbing the Sixers' ball- handlers with his ability to show on the pick-and-roll.
"He brings energy. Reggie is going to go get the ball," Del Negro said. "He's a wild card out there. He got spread out a couple times but his effort and energy is contagious. Guys feed on it. He got us some great offensive possessions. He really controlled the tempo of the game and kept them out of the open court."
There will still be hiccups for a team still learning to play together and losing the mettle of Chauncey Billups, a playoff-tested veteran, to a torn Achilles certainly hurts. But, the Clips have depth in the backcourt with former All-Star Mo Williams and the capable Randy Foye.
Already 3-1 on a grueling 11-day, six-game Grammy Road Trip, this Clip Show is something to see.
"That's a great defensive team," Collins said. "They have shot-blockers, they've got quickness, they've got size. With a healthy Chauncey Billups, that team arguably could win a championship."