FINAL | February 11, 2013 |Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA 

Clippers

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26

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107

LOGO

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90

 

ERIC PATTEN  

PHILADELPHIA – The Clippers closed their marathon eight-game road trip with a parade of dunks.

They had 11 in all as they hammered the Philadelphia 76ers, 107-90, at Wells Fargo Center, leading by as many as 30 points in the second half despite the absence of Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler.

Butler and Billups both sat out with sore lower backs. And while Chris Paul had an historic 21 points, 11 assists and five steals, controlling the game in every manner possible, it was a wondrous dunk by Blake Griffin along the left baseline that will live on highlight reels well beyond Monday night.

Paul dropped a pass to Griffin on a side pick and roll, where he caught the ball in his so-called “launch zone.” Griffin took one step, switched the ball from his right to left hand and threw it down as Spencer Hawes rotated a little too late. Hawes was whistled for a foul and the Clippers’ bench erupted, as did the Sixers crowd.

“I thought he actually should have gotten stuck somewhere in the air before that and never actually made it to the rim,” Jamal Crawford said. “It’s unbelievable to watch him and D.J. (DeAndre Jordan) dunk. It really is. I would pay to watch that.”


Griffin finished with 20 points (six dunks), nine rebounds and five assists to help the Clippers (37-17) salvage a .500 record (4-4) on the final day of their Grammy trip.

Crawford added 20 points, needing just 10 shots to do so. It extended his run of 20-plus points to three of his last four games, all coming since he fractured his nose in a loss on game two of the road trip in Toronto. Playing through pain or not, Crawford thinks his recent success has been about getting back to a comfort zone on the court.  

“I’m really, really comfortable and my teammates do a great job of making things easy,” Crawford said. “Coach [Vinny Del Negro] draws up some great plays and I’ve just been in a good rhythm.”

The ability to utilize Crawford in his role as shot-maker has been boosted by the return of Paul, who led the team in points, assists and steals Monday and did so in just 24:34. No player in NBA history since 1985-86 has put up at least 21 points, 11 assists and five steals in fewer than 25 minutes. It was the second consecutive game in which the All-Star point guard and certain MVP candidate, who returned Friday from a bruised right kneecap, asserted himself in limited minutes.

“He controlled the whole game and that’s what great players do,” Del Negro said. “He was looking for his shot and got us going early and defensively he kind of disrupts things as well. People forget he’s an All-Defensive guy and leads the league in steals usually. He causes havoc out there.”

Paul scored 10 points and made two steals in the first quarter, and seemed intent on pushing the pace against a Sixers squad that prefers to slow things down. He was aggressive on the ball, guarding All-Star Jrue Holiday and even racing up the court off made baskets.

“It was a collective effort,” Paul said. “Our starting unit, we got up 6-0 and they had to take a timeout and we kept the pressure on. The second unit came in and kept it going. We just never let really them get into a rhythm.”

Philadelphia scored just 11 points in the second quarter, and despite getting 29 points from former Clipper Nick Young, could not get anything going offensively until the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

Sixers head coach Doug Collins thought the Clippers were simply overwhelming.

“To me, that was the most impressive performance that I’ve seen from a team against us this year,” Collins said. “Speed, size, defense. They shot the ball. Their defense was tremendous. Their bigs were so active and quick. They could get out on top of the floor, trap the pick-and-rolls, get back. They were tremendous, so the credit goes to them.”

The Clippers shot 58.7% from the field, their highest shooting percentage in a game since 2010.  Paul, Crawford and Griffin combined to miss just nine of their 35 shots with the two backcourt mates making all but one of their 14 attempts from 2-point range.

“I think we have an exciting team and people want to come watch the way we play sometimes,” Griffin said. “It’s one of those things where we kind of had it rolling.”

NOTES

The Clippers shot 62.9% in the first half, marking the highest percentage in a single half this season… At 17-12 on the road the Clippers need just four wins in their final 12 away games to clinch the best road record in franchise history… The Clippers committed 13 turnovers, but just eight after the first quarter… They have scored 30 or points in four of the last eight quarters… Eric Bledsoe had 10 points and five assists off the bench.

MORE THOUGHTS ON THE DEFENSE

“Our game plan, again like the New York game, was perfect,” Paul said. “Our defense is what’s going to key us to win. We’re one of the best teams in transition and we left a lot of buckets out there in transition tonight. But when we get stops, we’re tough to deal with in the full court.”

“I think when you have a guy like [Jrue] Holiday who’s having a great season, he’s the engine to their car,” Crawford said. “He’s always the one who makes something go, so we wanted to be really aggressive with him. In doing that, I think it kind of threw them off a little bit.”

“I think we did a great job on defense and that correlated to the ball movement and easy shots for everyone else,” Matt Barnes said.

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