With their annual Grammy Awards road trip complete, the Los Angeles Clippers have come out as big winners, singing to the tune of a 6-1 mark while rising to first place in the Western Conference.
The Clippers return home Wednesday to play host to the New Orleans Pelicans, now that music’s biggest night has cleared from their building. They already have unpacked their luggage, but not baggage.
After losses by Oklahoma City and Minnesota on Tuesday, Los Angeles now has the best winning percentage in the West at .694. It sits at 34-15 with two games in hand over the Thunder, Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets, who are all 35-16.
The trip closed with a 149-144 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday that illustrated Lue’s defensive concerns. But that final game was also the second night of a back-to-back at the end of a long trip.
Los Angeles is an NBA-best 26-5 since the start of December, making the prospect of even better play around a core of Leonard, Paul George and James Harden that much more daunting.
The Pelicans arrive at Los Angeles on a three-game winning streak and will provide a stern test for that Clippers defense while coming off a 138-100 home victory over the Toronto Raptors on Monday. It was New Orleans’ fifth-highest scoring game of the season, just two weeks removed from a 153-point game against the Utah Jazz.
Brandon Ingram scored a season-high 41 points to go along with nine assists for New Orleans on Monday, while CJ McCollum had 20 points. The Pelicans shot 51 percent from the floor.
Ingram’s dominant performance included 8-of-11 shooting from 3-point range and no turnovers in 30 minutes. Ingram made five of his 3-pointers during a short burst of the third quarter, when the team went 10 of 14 from distance.
While Ingram has averaged 21.8 points in 46 games this season, Zion Williamson leads the team with an average of 22.1 points across 40 games. McCollum posts 19.2 points per contest and has played in 36 games.