LOS ANGELES–About seven minutes into Friday night’s intra-city matchup with the host Lakers, the Clippers grabbed a nine-point lead. And while the game was far from decided at the point, the lead never changed hands again.

The Clippers rode a hot-shooting first half from Caron Butler, eight-point fourth quarter from Jamal Crawford and another transcendent performance from Chris Paul to a 105-95 victory over their co-tenants at Staples Center.

The game, built as the so-called “Battle for L.A.,” was a fairly convincing win for the Clippers (2-0). They outscored the Lakers bench 46-16, controlled the pace of the game, forced the Lakers (0-3) into 20 turnovers, and led by as many as 16 points in the second half.

“Overall, I thought it was a solid game for us, but it’s only the second game of the year,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We have a lot of improvement to do.

“It’s too early to tell anything [about the two teams] other than we’ve got to keep getting better and I believe we will with the character guys we have, the talent that we have and the leadership we have.”

Difference Maker:  Paul. He tallied 10 assists by the 10-minute mark of the third quarter and finished with 15 on the night. On Friday he also contributed 18 points, six rebounds, three steals and his usual on-court tenacity and generalship of the offense in 34 minutes.

Turning Point: Two 3-pointers. The first by Butler, who fired away to close the first half fell through the net to preserve a five-point lead, snatching momentum from a Lakers group that was beginning to find its legs.

“That [shot] was huge,” Paul said. “I got in the lane and got in a bad way and kicked it out and he knocked it down. That was a huge three and it gave us some momentum going into the half.”

The second by Crawford falling into Laker bench after Griffin swiped an errant pass by Bryant and pushed it ahead to Paul in transition. Paul found Crawford on the right wing and the reserve guard drilled the shot to give the Clippers an 80-65 lead with 1:23 left in third.

Stat Line of the Night:  Paul (see above).

More Stats: 

Griffin. It was sort of a rough-and-tumble game for Griffin, but he still managed 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists before fouling out with 52 seconds left the game.

Bryant. Despite being defended by everyone from Green to Matt Barnes to Butler, Bryant finished with a game-high 40 points and six rebounds.

Crawford. The 2009-10 Sixth Man of the Year continued his scoring tear for the Clippers. He led the team for the second-straight night, scoring 21 points off the bench and making all nine of his free throws. Crawford is averaging 25 in his first two games with the Clippers.

Hot: Butler and Green. The Clippers starting wings played sparingly in the second half, but Butler set the tone early scoring all 14 of his points in the first 24 minutes, shooting 5-for-7. Green added eight points, including a fast-break dunk and two 3-pointers. Butler and Green combined to shoot 4-for-8 from 3-point range.

Not: Metta World Peace. In more than 38 minutes, World Peace made only one shot outside of the paint, going 3-for-10 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range. He also committed two turnovers and five personal fouls.


On his assessment of the game:

Del Negro: "I thought we had a couple lulls at the end of the second quarter. We let them get a couple threes off. But in the third quarter I thought we did a good job pushing the tempo, kind of spacing them out a little. You know, everybody contributed at one time or another.”

On halting any attempt at a Lakers comeback:

Paul: "We weathered the storm. I think we had a [15-point] lead going into the fourth and Kobe started being Kobe. I’ve played against the Lakers enough times to see him get like that and they come back and win. We had some timely shots. [Lamar Odom] hit a big one and Matt [Barnes] hit a big one off the glass.”

On DeAndre Jordan’s follow dunk in the third quarter:

Green: "All I saw was a cloud and I just saw him grab the ball and slam it. It was incredible. It was real big time. He’s athletic, he’s improving. We’re going to him more and more.”

On Lakers’ 0-3 start:

Lakers head coach Mike Brown: “I’m not trying to fool anybody here, we do need a win and we hope that we could have gotten one tonight.  That’s part of the reason why Kobe played the minutes he played (43), which is too many but while we’re trying to get this win, we still got to do things right.  It’s going to be tough.”

Notes: The last time the Lakers started 0-3 was 1978-79… Steve Nash (shin) sat out for the Lakers. Grant Hill (knee), Chauncey Billups (Achilles) and Trey Thompkins (knee) missed their second straight game fo the Clippers... The Clippers won the third quarter by 10 points. In three games the Lakers have been outscored by an average of nine points immediately after halftime… It is the Clippers’ first win in the series since April 2007 (nine games) when the Lakers suited up as the designated home team. win by the Clippers with the Lakers as the home team in nine tries… Through two games Paul has 27 assists… Odom had five points, including a 34-foot 3-pointer as the shot clock expired in the fourth quarter.