FINAL | January 4, 2013 | STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA 

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Eric Patten

LOS ANGELES–It was the kind of energy that had been absent from the previous two games, the only two the Clippers lost in the last 38 days.

Engines revving, they powered through the Lakers Friday for a 107-102 for a wire-to-wire victory in front of a wild, bipartisan Staples Center crowd, halting a two-game losing streak and winning for the second time this season over their L.A. city mates.

Chris Paul fully immersed himself in the MVP race with arguably his most transcendent performance of the season. He scored a season-high 30 points with 13 assists and six rebounds and sealed things with a crossover and 22-footer over Kobe Bryant with 19.9 seconds left. Paul made the final six free throws for the Clippers (26-8) for good measure.

“You never want to have a losing streak and for us to drop those two games (to Denver and Golden State), they were tough games and we didn’t play well,” Blake Griffin said. “But it’s great to get a win like this against a team like this and kind of get us going back in the right direction.”

The Clippers’ 18th victory in the last 20 games did not come without a charge from the Lakers (15-17) in the final minutes. After trailing by 16 points entering the fourth quarter, the Lakers cut it to two on a step-back jumper by Bryant, who scored 38 points on the night, from inside the 3-point line with 1:29 to go, leading to a Clippers timeout.

Still, the Clippers held on despite the absence of Jamal Crawford, who missed the game with a sore left foot.

“It felt like, for a little stretch there, we were almost just trying to hold on,” Paul said. “We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. And that’s my responsibility, me and [Blake Griffin]. But we made some timely plays.”

Difference Maker(s): Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. With Crawford missing from the lineup, it was clear Paul and Griffin were taking on the burden of more minutes, more scoring, and effectively more everything. Paul played the first 16:21, exceeding his usual break late in the first quarter, and Griffin, who fought through foul trouble for the fourth consecutive game, was relentless. Griffin’s night was perhaps epitomized by a save he made along the sideline, launching himself over the scorer’s table and tossing the ball back in bounds.

Paul said it was “no question” that he and Griffin felt they had to make up for some of the offense in Crawford’s absence. “Me and Blake talked about that before the game,” Paul said. “We said we were going to have to be aggressive early because with Jamal out that’s a huge [part]. He’s second in scoring on our team.”

The duo played 70 minutes combined, including 41 from Paul, and each had an imprint on the game. Paul did a majority of the scoring down the stretch, but Griffin added a runner over Dwight Howard after driving past Metta World Peace to make it 98-89.

Moment of Truth:  Paul’s aforementioned jumper sealed the game, but the Lakers comeback took a hit when Eric Bledsoe flew in to grab an offensive rebound with 4:46 remaining. The board led to Griffin’s runner over Howard 21 seconds later and helped put the brakes on a 16-4 run by the Lakers.

Stat Line(s) of the Night: 

Paul and Griffin. Paul scored a season-high 30 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and contributed 13 assists, six rebounds and two steals. He also converted all seven his free throws, going 6-for-6 in the final few minutes. Griffin added 24 points with five rebounds and two assists (both to Willie Green on passes of double-teams in the third quarter).

More Stats: 

Bryant. The indomitable Lakers guard continued his run of 12 games with 30 or more points in his last 13. He scored a game-high 38 points on 15-of-25 shooting to go with five steals and three assists.

“I’ve seen a lot of games and on both ends I don’t think I’ve seen anyone play better than that,” Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He was phenomenal. He’s lasered in on the game and trying to get us out of this ditch.”

Green. While Griffin and Paul pitched in 54 of the Clippers’ 107 points, it was performances from several of the role players that helped them build a 19-point advantage. Green scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting with three assists and two rebounds in 20 minutes. It was a bounce-back game of sorts for Green, who had missed 16 of his last 19 shots.

“For me, it was about getting back into the gym. I came in on our off day and played 3-on-3, 1-on-1, things like that help you get back into a rhythm,” Green said.

Paul, whose locker is next to Green’s, interjected: “That ain’t like Willie Green to miss them corner threes.”

Odom. The 2011 NBA Sixth Man of the Year continued his quest to get back to that level. Odom had nine points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots and connected on his only 3-pointer of the night. He entered the game shooting 12.5% from beyond the arc.

“He’s been working very hard,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “It was good to see him make a few shots to night, especially that three from the top.”

Hot: Bryant. He took 25 shots and missed five.

Not: Pau Gasol. He was virtually a non-factor in 27:16, scoring two points with four rebounds and going 1-for-6 from the field. Gasol sat out the fourth quarter until Dwight Howard fouled out with 1:07 left.

Quotables:

On the game:

Vinny Del Negro: “We made it a little bit harder on ourselves than we needed to. But, I thought we battled the whole night, got some good efforts from a lot of people. Our rebounding, we were active there; we did a good job on the glass. Gave them too many points off turnovers, but Chris [Paul] made some big plays, some big free throws and we had a couple of stops at the end to seal it up. A good win for us, especially short-handed.”

On how they were able to build a 19-point lead:

DeAndre Jordan: “Just us getting stops, forcing them to one shot and trying to keep those guys off the offensive glass as much possible, and getting out and running like we want to.”

On Clippers’ focus:

Odom: “Right now we’re just focused on being one of the best teams in the league, not just the city. Focus can’t be just to be better than one team. Now, we’re trying to be great.”

Notes: The Clippers have won 18 of their last 20 games… They out-rebounded the Lakers, 47-36… Center Dwight Howard had 21 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, but Del Negro opted to foul him intentionally twice in the fourth quarter, including for the final time with 2:08 remaining. Howard made both free throws on the trip, cutting the Clippers lead that was once as large as 19 to four… The Clippers moved to 7-2 in the last nine games they’ve scored 98 points or more against the Lakers… Griffin collided with a child in the stands when he dove over the scorer’s table. After the game he presented the youngster with a pair of signed shoes and brought him back to the Clippers locker room to meet his teammates.  

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