FINAL | April 3, 2013 | STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA

Phoenix Suns Logo

19

31

20

31

101

Los Angeles Clippers Logo

29

28

38

31

126

 

ERIC PATTEN

LOS ANGELES – Fifty.

For the first time in franchise history, the Clippers notched their 50th regular-season win, dismantling the Phoenix Suns, 126-101, at Staples Center Wednesday, snapping a three-game losing streak in the process.

The victory surpasses the Buffalo Braves, who won 49 games in 1974-75, and keeps the Clippers (50-26) within two games in the loss column of the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference playoff race. Both Denver and Memphis won earlier in the night.

“It’s a big step for us never having been done here,” Blake Griffin said of the team’s milestone victory. “But we feel like we could be much better and we feel like we could have been a 60-win team. It’s something to be proud of but the work doesn’t stop there.”

Griffin had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds in a modest 26:58. DeAndre Jordan scored 20 points, his most since Nov. 8, and grabbed 12 rebounds to tally his 11th double-double of the year. And Willie Green matched his season-high with 15 points on 7-for-10 shooting.

The Clippers got double-figure scoring performances from seven players and shot 55.9% on the night. The point guard tandem of Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe was pretty good as well. Paul had 15 points, 12 assists and four steals, while his dynamic young understudy scored 17 points with seven assists and two steals.  

“I thought we did some good things tonight,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We were locked in for most of the game I think.”

After two days of talking about locking in, the Clippers offered a resounding response to a pair of disappointing outings against the Rockets and Pacers. They opened the game on a 15-0 run and after the Suns (23-52) climbed to within four in the third quarter they buried Phoenix with a 33-12 run over an 8:53 stretch.

Green and Jordan scored 21 points combined in the period, while Paul dished seven assists in what quickly turned into a runaway. Jordan had four his eight dunks in the stretch, catching two alley-oops and throwing down a right-handed dunk over a disinterested contest from Jermaine O’Neal and Green made five field goals.

“That third quarter we kind of jumped on them and took control of the game,” Del Negro said. “We had some good performances from a lot of guys. I thought Willie Green really helped set the tone in that third quarter.”

It was a carryover from a scintillating month or so from the shooting guard. Since March 1, Green is shooting, 59.3% from 3-point range and has connected on at least one shot from distance in a career-high eight consecutive games.

“I think the important thing is that I’ve been feeling well as far as my health is concerned,” Green said. “My legs are under me, so I can get into the gym and work. And that’s the most important part for me. If I can get in the gym and get repetitions up, I can continue to stay in a rhythm and it’s translating into games.”

For the Clippers, the win was not only historic, but much needed. Three straight losses and four in the last five games had the team somewhat reeling. Del Negro said the margin of victory Wednesday was of little importance when measured against merely halting their recent skid.

And Paul said getting back on track started with defense.

“We played fast, we got the tempo up,” Paul said. “We got some stops. Once again, this was one of those games where our defense created our offense. We got steals, we forced 19 turnovers, and we only had six ourselves. That’s how we’ve played most of the time when we’ve won games.”

NOTES

The Clippers outscored Phoenix, 72-32, in the paint… Only two teams have yet to win 50 games in a season (the Raptors and Bobcats)… The Clippers won their 14th game this season by 20 points or more… The Suns have lost 11 of their last 12 games, including eight by at least 10 points…

Ryan Hollins got into an altercation in front of the Suns’ bench when he became entangled with Goran Dragic. Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley each attempted to pull Hollins away before exchanging shoves to the chest. Hollins was assessed a flagrant-1 foul and was ejected. Beasley received a technical foul and was also ejected.

“It was just a quick play in the heat of the moment,” Hollins said. “It definitely was nothing personal on my end or I think their end. Everybody’s just playing hard.”

 

 
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