They had played so well heading into the All-Star break but had failed to find that same fire since returning. They were 5-3 after the break with those three losses coming against Western Conference playoff teams the Clippers might see in the postseason.
"I don't think we've played well in a while," Del Negro said. "I don't think our defensive intensity has been where it needs to be. We have to get that edge back, and hopefully that starts today."
Well, the Clippers' edge is certainly back after their 129-97 over the Pistons on Sunday. The Clippers put on one of their more dominating performances of the season Sunday as they opened up a 34-point lead on Detroit and had seven players, including all five starters, score in double figures. Every active player on the Clippers' roster entered the game and scored at least one basket as the team finished with a season-high for points.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
The Clippers have had their fair share of highlight dunks this season that have been argued for being "dunk of the year" candidates but there was a handful in Sunday's game alone. Easily the best one, and the one that will be replayed for some time, was DeAndre Jordan's dunk over Brandon Knight in the second quarter off a lob from Chris Paul. With the Clippers up 55-36 with 4:35 left in the second quarter, Paul found Jordan for a lob as he rose above the rim -- and Knight -- and threw it down with enough force to shake the rim. The Clippers' entire bench got up on their feet after the play and nearly tackled Jordan, who couldn't stop smiling. The debate about dunk of the year will likely go on for the rest of the season, but Jordan's dunk was probably the most well-received in Lob City this season.
Paul usually likes to pick and choose his spots during a game in which he will be aggressive and look to shoot. On Detroit, it happened to be early and often as he scored 20 points and dished out 14 assists. Paul got off to a good start with eight points in the first quarter and came back with eight more in the third quarter. He helped the Clippers get off to a good start in the first half and the second half, and didn't have to play much in the fourth quarter. In fact, the game was so lopsided that Maalik Wayns, who was signed to a 10-day contract Saturday, played 11 minutes and finished with two points and five assists.
Griffin gets going
It didn't take long for Blake Griffin to become engaged in the game after Jason Maxiell checked him hard a couple of times down the court in the first quarter. When neither encounter was called a foul as Griffin stared down the official, he nodded his head and took matters into his own hands. He quickly came back and scored nine points in four minutes before having to take a seat with two fouls. Griffin finished with a game-high 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists in just 22 minutes.