|CLIPPERS ROLL PAST KINGS |
- ERIC PATTEN @ericpatten
LOS ANGELES - Any questions about how the Clippers would respond to their final home game before embarking on a key three-game road trip were answered in resounding fashion.
Behind a high-flying, highlight-filled run midway through the fourth quarter, the Clippers defeated the Sacramento Kings, 109-94, Saturday to move within a half game of the Pacific Division lead.
It was L.A.'s eighth win in nine games, including consecutive victories over Sacramento (19-37), and at 34-22, the Clippers are 12 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2006 season.
"It's a good win for us," Chris Paul said. "These are the type of games that sometimes you don't get up for when you look at [Sacramento's] record. But they play hard. They came out and played hard and we did what we're supposed to do."
Difference Maker: Paul struggled from the floor early in the game, missing six of his first seven shots, but that was his only foible. He put together a marvelous performance after halftime and finished the game with 19 points, 15 assists, seven steals, and five rebounds.
"Chris was able to take over the game when we needed him to," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "He got us a lead and got us into the penalty."
Paul shot 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the second half. He did not attempt a foul shot before halftime.
Turning Point: With the Kings hanging around midway through the fourth quarter, the Clippers seemed to kick things into overdrive. They went on a 21-7 run, dashing any hope of a Sacramento comeback and providing one of the most electric sequences of the season.
Nick Young swiped a pass from former Clipper Travis Outlaw, kicked ahead to Eric Bledsoe who found Blake Griffin for a slam dunk on a lob that Griffin caught over his right shoulder and threw down with one hand. Nine seconds later, Paul pilfered Tyreke Evans and threw an alley oop pass off the backboard to Bledsoe. The 6-foot-1 guard dunked with two hands, pulled himself up on the backboard, and spun off. The play led to a Kings timeout and put L.A. up by 14 with 8:50 to go.
Stat Line of the Night: Blake Griffin. After failing to score more than 16 points for three consecutive games (two wins), the All-Star was both efficient and dominating. He totaled a game-high 27 points to with 14 rebounds, four assists and two steals. It was his 35th double-double of the year (fourth in the NBA). He made 12 of his 15 field goal attempts, with one of his misses coming on a 3-point attempt at the first quarter buzzer from near midcourt.
Terrence Williams. Sacramento's reserve swingman scored just five of the team's 40 points off the bench, but he also shipped in nine assists, seven more than any other player on the roster.
Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe is becoming a stat-stuffer on a nightly basis. He shot 3-of-6 with three rebounds, three steals, and a season-high nine assists.
Hot: The Clippers from beyond the arc. They made 11 of their 27 3-pointers, with Paul, Bledsoe, Young, and Bobby Simmons making one apiece to go along with Foye's seven.
Not: DeMarcus Cousins. Despite tying a career-high with 20 rebounds, Cousins was out of sorts. He shot 5-of-19 from the field for 15 points in just over 41 minutes.
On the team's performance:
Vinny Del Negro: "I didn't think we played very well in the first half. I thought they were outworking us. We were sloppy with the basketball and they were getting transition shots. I didn't like our approach in the first half, so we talked about some things at halftime and they came out with much better energy."
On the Western Conference standings:
Chris Paul: "We can only control what we can control and that's our game. We can't worry about what the Lakers are doing. We've got a tough road trip and it's going to take a lot of poise."
On run in fourth quarter:
Nick Young: "We picked it up defensively. We stayed with it and shots started falling off our defense and that was the ball game right there."
On the Sacramento's 20 turnovers:
DeMarcus Cousins: "Those were just unforced errors. I think we were rushing. We thought we would see a guy open and they [the Clippers] would deflect the pass. We have to be more careful about that."
Notes: The Clippers tallied 19 assists in the first half, two more than they had all game Thursday in Sacramento. They finished with 34 assists on 44 made field goals...Griffin was whistled for his tenth technical foul of the season midway through the third quarter. Thirteen technicals carries a one-game suspension...The Clippers scored 32 points off 20 Sacramento turnovers...L.A. led 29-22 at the end of the first quarter. They are 17-5 when leading after one quarter at home. The five losses came against Denver, San Antonio, Phoenix, and twice versus Minnesota.
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