FINAL | March 1, 2013 | Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

Clippers

31

23

23

28

105

LOGO

23

22

23

21

89

 

ERIC PATTEN  

CLEVELAND – A night after nearly letting a double-digit fourth quarter lead slip to four points, the Clippers made certain it wouldn’t happen again.

They traded baskets with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the opening minutes of the fourth before blowing the game open with a eight unanswered points to close out their brief road trip with a 105-89 wire-to-wire win Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

It is the Clippers’ first victory in Cleveland since 2002, their eighth win in their last nine games overall and fifth-straight road win. The Cavaliers (20-39) played without All-Star Kyrie Irving, who sat out for the third game in a row with a hyperextended knee.

The Clippers (43-18) put the game away midway through the fourth quarter after Jamal Crawford banked in a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, Chris Paul drilled a 3-pointer from straightaway on the following possession and Lamar Odom tipped in a miss by Matt Barnes to make it 95-75. The lead swelled to as large as 23 points in the final minutes, but the consecutive shots from distance forced a timeout by Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott and sent several Cavaliers fans to the exits.

“I thought we made some plays,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said of the fourth quarter. “It was a little bit different than last night. We can always do a better job there, but I was pleased with the effort.”

On Thursday the Clippers needed a surge in the final two minutes from Paul to thwart a comeback by the Pacers. A night later, it was cumulative effort to ensure their blowout margin was secure.

Paul finished with 11 points and 15 assists, one shy of his season high. Blake Griffin added his 25th double-double, tallying 16 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes. And Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 24 points off the bench, including extending his NBA regular-season record for 4-point plays to 37.

Caron Butler had 13 points and was one of six players in double figures. Griffin said the balanced scoring makes the Clippers a tough team to defend.

“It kind of keeps the defense guessing,” Griffin said. “They can’t really tell where our points are going to come from or our shots are going to come from. So, when you have a lot of guys scoring, they load up to try and stop one thing and then we have somebody else score. It makes our offense run a lot smoother.

“It’s always nice to have a lot of people score. Really, it’s about our movement. And our movement was great tonight and that allowed a lot of people to score.”

The bench unit of Crawford, Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf exemplified the movement Griffin was referring to. On one possession they made six passes before Barnes attempted an open 3-pointer from the corner.


“When the second unit plays like that, we take the game of this basketball team to another level,” said Turiaf, who had two points, two assists, four rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes. “When we move the ball from side to side, bang, bang, bang, because we have so many weapons. We have so many finishers that can finish at the basket and so many guys who can shoot threes or score from the mid-range. I think we can do things at a very high level.”

As has been the case for much of their recent stretch of victories, the Clippers were highly effective defensively, particularly in the fourth quarter when they held Cleveland to one field goal and forced six turnovers over 8:17.

“We were trying to be aggressive [defensively]; use our depth,” Del Negro said. “We have athletic bigs. I thought Ronny gave us some good minutes tonight. Another good team effort; trying to get as many [wins] as we can, learn the process and become better. It was a good back-to-back win after a tough game last night.”

The Clippers never trailed in the first half, leading by as many as 14 points and much like they did in Indiana a little over 24 hours ago, they bludgeoned their opponent in the paint, outscoring the Cavaliers, 28-14, inside. Most of the damage was courtesy of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, who combined for 19 points on 9-for-11 shooting with all nine field goals coming on dunks or layups.

“DJ when he’s aggressive like that, he gets guys in foul trouble and he attacks the rim,” Paul said. “And then, Blake is Blake and everybody knows what to expect from him every night.”

On a night where Griffin scored 16 points with 11 rebounds he also added three assists, three steals and three blocked shots. It is only the sixth time this season a player has put up those statistical minimums in all five categories.

Griffin controlled the glass, helping the Clippers earn a 39-32 rebounding edge, and threw in his seemingly requisite highlights. He caught an alley-oop from Crawford, threw an alley-oop to Jordan, converted an acrobatic layup around two defenders to draw a foul, and finished off a steal at midcourt with a tomahawk slam on the other end.

“One bad pass or a mistake on the offensive end leads to them getting layups and dunks,” Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson said. We saw that with the two dunks that Blake got.”

NOTES

The Clippers have won five road games in a row, matching the second longest road winning streak in franchise history. They won seven games in a row away from home during their record 17-game win streak in December… The bench outscored the Cavaliers reserves, 50-36… Odom was 5-for-8 from the field with 10 points. He also had seven rebounds… Ryan Hollins, Turiaf and Odom combined to go 8-for-11 on the night... Paul flew to North Carolina after the game to have his No. 3 jersey retired at Wake Forest University. The ceremony will take place Saturday at the Demon Deacons' game against Maryland. 

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