|CLIPPPERS TAKE DOWN HORNETS WITH WIRE-TO-WIRE WIN |
- ERIC PATTEN @ericpatten
LOS ANGELES - The Clippers exacted a bit of revenge Monday night.
After losing by seven to the depleted New Orleans Hornets last week, L.A. scored 18 of the first 20 points of the game en route to a 97-85 wire-to-wire win at Staples Center.
The Clippers (28-21) extended their second-half lead to as large as 27 points in what was generally a miserable night for the Hornets.
New Orleans (12-37) played without former Clippers Chris Kaman (illness) and Eric Gordon (knee), Emeka Okafor (knee), and Jason Smith (suspension). They committed 29 turnovers, a team season high as well as the season high for a Clippers opponent, and had no starters score in double figures.
It was the fourth straight win at home for the Clippers, who converted 35 points on Hornets' miscues.
"DeAndre was very active early, which gave us a huge boost," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "DeAndre's energy tonight was infectious for the team and everyone fed off that, which is great."
Turning Point: With 5:20 left in the third quarter, New Orleans cut the Clippers lead down to seven on a Carl Landry layup. But Paul made certain it didn't spark a larger run by the Hornets, making a 3-pointer, 9-foot one-handed jumper in the lane, and creating a turnover on the defensive end that led to a layup for Caron Butler. It extended L.A.'s lead to 14 points and helped ignite a 17-5 stretch to close the quarter.
Stat Line of the Night: Paul was brilliant as he so often is in Clipper victories. He amassed a game-high 25 points with 10 assists for his 15th double-double. He also had four steals and two rebounds. Paul was particularly devastating in the third quarter, going 6-for-8 with 15 points.
More Stats: Blake Griffin. It was arguably one Griffin's most physically imposing games of the season. He scored 20 points with seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in just 32 minutes (4.3 below his season average). The numbers aren't eye popping, but Griffin threw down several vicious dunks, including a right-handed slam where he cocked the ball behind his head and seemed to float an extra second to let the contesting defender pass him. He also played aggressive on the defensive end, battling for rebounds and committing a couple of hard fouls, including a flagrant-1 foul on a layup attempt by Trevor Ariza.
Al-Farouq Aminu had a team-high 15 points off the bench. He appeared comfortable in his old surroundings making all but one of his eight shots.
Hot: Griffin. He went 8-for-10 from the field, making him 14 for his last 19 in the first two games of the home stand.
Not: The Hornets from beyond the arc. Marco Belinelli and former Clipper Al-Farouq Aminu made the only 3-pointer for the Hornets, who were just 2-for-11 (18.2%) from outside.
On the defensive effort the last two games:
Kenyon Martin: "Offense comes and goes in this league, intensity on the defensive end, it can never go. I think the last couple of games we locked in and did a better job taking team's tendencies away and it's worked for us."
Blake Griffin: "Offensively the ball's not always going to go in for you. One thing you can always do is defend and pass well. Those are things as a team that we've been concentrating on. When everybody's having a great hustle game or defensive game or whatever it is, that's going to outweigh a bad offensive game."
On hard fouls around the rim and the flagrant foul call on Blake Griffin:
Blake Griffin: "I don't think it was a flagrant foul. It was a good foul. Before the game coach talked about not giving up any layups and that's what that was."
Trevor Ariza: "It was a hard foul. You're not supposed to give easy baskets or layups and that's what he was doing."
On playing his former team:
Chris Paul: "My connection to the city [of New Orleans] will always be there. I am one of those people that when you throw the ball up, the other team is what it is. Hopefully, those little instances don't overshadow the game."
Notes: Griffin picked up his ninth technical foul with 9:30 left in the fourth quarter. Thirteen technicals carries an automatic one-game suspension... Because of the Hornets' turnover problems, the Clippers had a limited number of shots to rebound. They totaled a season-low 17 defensive rebounds and 23 boards overall... As part of the Clippers 18-2 start, they made their first eight shots. It's the third game this season they opened the game with seven straight makes or more... Mo Williams missed his second game with a sprained left big toe. Prior to tipoff, Del Negro said he expects Williams to miss approximately two weeks.
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