FINAL | March 17, 2013 | STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA















LOS ANGELES – The Clippers hosted the New York Knicks Sunday afternoon after three days off and the rust showed in the early going.

The Clippers had trouble holding onto the ball in the first half but overcame the slow start and went on to defeat the injury-plagued Knicks, 93-80, at Staples Center to sweep the season series with the East’s third best team.

It was also Clippers’ head coach Vinny Del Negro’s 200th career victory.

“Obviously they have some players out; a different complexion game, different things they’re doing right now,” Del Negro said. “But we got the result we wanted and I am pleased with that.”

The Clippers (46-21) held the Knicks (38-26) to just 30.2% shooting in the first half and 35.8% for the game while out-rebounding them, 51-39. The Clippers outscored the Knicks, 28-23, in the third quarter to take a double-digit lead into the final period and they never looked back.

“Our energy was great,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul said. “We pushed the tempo and picked up the pace. Our second half was a lot better than our first half.”

Five players scored in double figures for the Clippers, led by Paul with 20 points and eight assists. Blake Griffin recorded his 27th double-double of the year with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Caron Butler added 14 points after missing the last game with a left elbow strain.

The Clippers had not played since Wednesday and it showed early as they committed 10 turnovers in the first half, six in the first quarter. It was those mistakes that helped keep the shorthanded Knicks in the game. They were missing Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire with knee injuries. Center Tyson Chandler did not dress due to a strained neck.

“Without Tyson they are a different team,” Paul said. “Tyson’s just one of those guys that pushes the tempo and just keeps running. Kurt [Thomas] is a great shooter that knows how to play the game but is not as athletic and runs like Tyson does so they slowed the game down.”

The Knicks were 13-for-43 in the first half but had nine more shot attempts thanks to 10 Clippers turnovers. The Knicks also had four offensive rebounds despite getting hammered on the glass, 28-18, at halftime. The Clippers led 44- 37 at the break and could never push the pace to their satisfaction in the first half.

“I thought we just fouled too much and turned the ball over,” Clippers guard Chauncey Billups said. “When you’ve got to take the ball out every time you can’t run.”

But the tide turned in the third quarter. After the Knicks cut their deficit to 44-41, the Clippers offense finally came alive as they went on an 11-1 scoring run to expand their lead to double digits.

“We watched a few clips of us walking the ball up the court [in the first half] and Coach Del Negro wasn’t pleased with that so we had to make the adjustment,” Griffin said. “I thought we did a good job coming out in that third quarter.”

Griffin in particular picked up his play in the second half, scoring eight points in the third quarter on 4-for-7 shooting after taking just five shots in the first half.

“I think that’s something we’re always looking at,” Paul said. “Earlier in the game, they were trapping and doubling him on the post and he was doing a good job of getting off the ball.”

Late in the third quarter, Griffin did what he does best as he threw down a vicious dunk off a lob from Chris Paul to send the sellout crowd at Staples Center into a frenzy. Jamal Crawford started the play when he picked J.R. Smith’s pocket near midcourt, igniting a 3-on-1 fast break.

He dribbled up the left side and hit Paul with a cross-court pass. Paul then made the lone Knicks defender commit and lofted the ball into the air for the trailing Griffin, who palmed the ball with his right hand mid-flight and then hammered it down to put the Clippers up 62-47.

“I don’t really try to put a whole lot of extra on it,” Griffin said of the dunk. “CP [Paul] knows just where I like it on the break and puts it up in the right spot.”

As for Smith and Crawford, the battle between this season’s frontrunners for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award also got off to slow start. They each failed to score in the first quarter, shooting a combined 0-for-7.

But their production picked up significantly in the second quarter. Crawford broke out of his shooting funk with a pull-up jumper to put the Clippers up 29-26 with 8:26 to go. He finished the quarter 3-for-6 with a 3-pointer and had seven points at the half. He had 12 points in the game.

Smith went 3-for-6 from the field in the second quarter and picked up his aggression, getting to the free throw line six times and hitting five of them en route to 11 points in the quarter. But the Clippers locked him down the rest of the game as he went 1-for-9 in the second half. He also went 1-for-9 in the first meeting between the teams in New York, a 102-88 Clippers victory, making him 5-for-29 in the two meetings combined.


Griffin was 0-for-5 at the free throw line. In his previous three games, Griffin had missed four free throws combined, going 13-for-17… The Clippers turned the ball over twice in the second half after coughing it up 10 times in the opening 24 minutes. They allowed just four points off their turnovers while scoring 12 points on nine Knicks mistakes… DeAndre Jordan scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds…The Clippers have 15 games remaining in the regular season and are in the No. 3 seed, one game ahead of both the Memphis Grizzlies and Denver Nuggets.




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