Game #10
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
January 16, 2012 | 12:30 PM (PST)
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TEAM 1 2 3 4 FINAL
17 23 23 28 91
32 21 21 27 101


LOS ANGELES–For three quarters, the Clippers did almost everything they wanted.

Entering a stretch of three games in three days and missing Chris Paul and Mo Williams, they opened up a 13-point halftime lead and carried it into the fourth quarter. But cold shooting, turnovers, and missed free throws allowed the New Jersey Nets back in the game.

L.A. held on, though, behind double-digit scoring from all five starters and a 3-pointer by Chauncey Billups to finish off the stubborn Nets for a 101-91 win at Staples Center.

“I thought everybody played a great game today,” said Billups, who finished with 20 points. “I thought Randy Foye was awesome in Chris and Mo’s absence. And he’s always ready. He’s a true professional.”

Paul (strained left hamstring) and Williams (sore right foot), who missed his second straight game, were out of the lineup along with forward Brian Cook (sprained ankle).

Blake Griffin had 23 points and 14 rebounds with his usual array of highlights at the rim and crashes to hardwood. He threw down a spectacular left-handed dunk over Humphries off a wrap-around pass from Foye, tumbled over a patron courtside diving for a loose ball, and fell into the camera well near New Jersey’s basket late in the fourth after getting tangled up with Kris Humphries (14 points and seven rebounds).

Caron Butler chipped in 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists. DeAndre Jordan had 12 points, nine rebounds, and four blocks, while Foye contributed 12 points, 10 assists and an outstanding defensive effort against star point guard Deron Williams, who managed just 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting.

“We got a lot of production from a lot of guys,” Del Negro said. “I thought Randy Foye’s defense all night. You know, Deron’s as a hard of a cover in this league as there is and he was draped all over him as much as possible.”

Despite the 10-point victory, their sixth in a row at home, there was a sense the short-handed Clippers (7-3) could have made things a little easier.

The Nets (3-11) trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, but Deron Williams tied things at 81 with 6:46 remaining in the game on a 3-pointer from the left wing. The run was sparked by Williams and rookie guard MarShon Brooks, who scored 13 points in the third quarter and totaled a team-high 19 for the game. It also helped that the Clippers managed just seven points in the first 5:26 of the fourth and missed 16 of their 35 free throws.

“Our ball movement got a little stagnant. We missed some easy shots and it got them back in the game,” Del Negro said. “We had a pretty good cushion most of the night, when they cut it we made some big plays.”

Rookie Fortson Makes NBA Debut

By Ryan Menezes

The Clippers bench strayed from its usual look during Monday afternoon’s win over the Nets.

Some of that had to do with Chris Paul and Mo Williams, faces that rarely ever see the bench during games planted firmly in their seats with street clothes on. It also had to do with the fresh new face toting his unmistakable hair.

Between Paul and Williams sat Courtney Fortson, the dreadlocked 5-foot-11 guard who was called up from the NBA Developmental League Sunday and in uniform for the early tip.

Paul (strained left hamstring) and Williams (sore right foot) are nursing injuries that kept them both out of the game. The Clippers’ backcourt depth was already short with Eric Bledsoe (torn right meniscus) sidelined until next month.

In stepped Fortson, who soaked up all the knowledge he could as the pair of All-Stars beside him sat in street clothes.

“They're basically coaches telling me the ins and outs of the game,” Forston said. “I'm just listening, taking it all in.”

Fortson eventually left the bench, as he expected, at the 1:47 mark of the first quarter. That made the game his official NBA regular-season debut a little more than a year and a half after leaving the University of Arkansas. He said that gave him an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

Fortson quickly handed out two assists before the first quarter was over, one on a Blake Griffin dunk and another on a Griffin jumper. His only other statistic in his nine minutes was a defensive rebound, grabbed away from notoriously tough rebounder Reggie Evans.

“Reggie's got to understand, I'm a vicious rebounder, too,” Fortson said with a smile.

It helped that Fortson was in the Clippers training camp before being waived on Dec. 23, two days prior to the start of the regular season. His averages of 17.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists during 17 games with the D-League’s Los Angeles D-Fenders didn’t hurt either.

He had also played in both preseason games before getting waived. Despite finding out he was headed back to the NBA just one night prior, Fortson still remembered the nuances of Del Negro’s playbook.

“I just thought he brought a lot of energy to camp,” Del Negro said before the game. “In our situation with having so many point guards already out, which is unfortunate, we just felt that he was the best guy for us right now. He knows our terminology. He knows kind of what we’re doing because he’s been with us. We just felt like, in this shortened timeframe, that getting a guy in here that knows what we’re doing a little bit made more sense.”

After Williams tied it, Jordan converted a two-handed dunk off a feed from Billups. Brooks answered with a contested jumper from 19 feet, but Foye ran off consecutive layups, including a breakaway off a Butler steal. The Clippers maintained near a five-point lead for the next two minutes until Billups dribbled into a 26-foot 3-pointer from the right wing to essentially put the Nets away.

The Clippers had a chance to pull away in the third quarter, but Griffin missed two free throws, Gomes fouled Anthony Morrow shooting a 3-pointer, and Evans missed 1-of-2 free throws. Brooks promptly responded for the Nets with a straightaway 3-pointer to slice the Clippers lead to 71-61.

With a chance to pull away in the third quarter, Griffin missed two free throws, Gomes fouled Morrow shooting a 3-pointer, and Evans missed 1-of-2 free throws. Brooks promptly responded for the Nets with a straightaway 3-pointer to slice the Clippers lead to 71-61.

“We played harder than them and played with more energy than them in the third and fourth quarter,” Brooks said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win because of our effort.”

Nets head coach Avery Johnson thought the problem for New Jersey was the hole they dug for themselves early.

The Clippers led 32-17 after one quarter. Butler sparked the hot start, opening with 15 points, including 10 in a row at one stretch. It was the highest scoring quarter for any Clippers player this season.


It was the second time that all five Clippers starters scored in double figures. They also accomplished the feat in the home opener against Chicago… Nets head coach Avery Johnson was whistled for a technical foul in the first quarter. It was the third straight game an opposing coach has received one… During a four-minute stretch in the first quarter (5:06 to 0:56), the Clippers scored 18 points… Butler has scored exactly 20 points in four of the last five games… The Clippers out-rebounded New Jersey, 46-35. It’s the third time in the last four games L.A. has led in rebounding, after failing to do so in six straight.

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