LOS ANGELES — The NBA’s top-rated defense and an unblemished road record have the Los Angeles Clippers sitting pretty and fashioning the league’s best record.
The Clippers (9-1) will go for their seventh win in a row Monday night when they host the Brooklyn Nets.
Over the weekend, Los Angeles capped a two-game trip with back-to-back wins at the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and at the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday. By beating the Thunder, the Clippers avenged their lone loss, an 85-83 decision at home on Nov. 2.
Although the Thunder snapped the Clippers’ string of holding seven consecutive opponents less than 100 points in a 110-108 setback Saturday, Los Angeles wouldn’t be deterred en route to its fifth straight decision away from home in a 119-105 romp over the Timberwolves.
The Clippers are off to a franchise-best start and lead the league in several defensive categories, including points allowed (91.5 per game), defensive efficiency (92.7) and opponents’ shooting percentage (40.6 percent).
Offensively, they are averaging 107 points, a differential of 15.1, which also is tops in the NBA.
“I knew we’d be one of the top offenses in the league. We have so many scorers,” said Clippers reserve guard Austin Rivers, according to the Orange County Register. “The combination of us fits perfectly. On defense, I didn’t know how we were going to be. I thought we would maybe struggle.”
Brooklyn (4-5) has struggled defensively. The Nets are ranked 22nd in opponents’ points (107.6) while scoring 106.3 per game.
The Nets have been careless with the basketball, too, committing an average of 17.1 turnovers. They will attempt to limit those mistakes against a Clippers’ unit tied with Dallas at third for the least miscues at 11.3 per outing entering Sunday.
The Nets kicked off their three-game swing with a 122-104 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the Nets with 20 points and a career-best 13 rebounds in the victory.
“It’s been getting better for me,” said Hollis-Jefferson, who is averaging 13 points per game in his last four contests since a scoreless outing against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 2. “Finding a peace. I’m playing in a happiness out there. It’s really helped me to contribute to the team like I know how to. My teammates are encouraging me to be aggressive.”
The Nets’ stopover at Staples features back-to-back games against the Clippers and the Lakers on Tuesday before they wrap up their journey at Oklahoma City on Friday.
The Nets will be without guards Jeremy Lin (hamstring) and Isaiah Whitehead (concussion). In their absences, Brooklyn has gotten a boost from guard Sean Kilpatrick, who started for the second time this season and produced 19 points and nine boards against the Suns.
Kilpatrick is averaging 15.8 points, second on the team behind center Brook Lopez (19.4 points).
Blake Griffin leads the Clippers at 20.2 points, while Chris Paul is averaging 19 points and a league-high 2.7 steals. Center DeAndre Jordan averages 10.8 points and 12.2 rebounds (sixth best).