POSTGAME REPORT: CLIPPERS 116, KINGS 81 - 12/1/12

Jamal Crawford
Photo: Varon Panganiban

LOS ANGELES – With a trip to Utah looming for the Clippers, it was imperative for the team to secure a victory Saturday night against the Kings before travelling to a place where they have historically struggled, having won just once since 2003.

Luckily, the Kings never got anything going offensively and the game was wrapped up by halftime.

The Clippers led by 24 at the half after two quarters and cruised to a 116-81 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. It was the Clippers second consecutive win and it was never close.

“We needed a win like that to be, what I thought, pretty good from start to finish,” Clippers power forward Blake Griffin said.

Seven players scored in double figures for the Clippers (10-6), led by Jamal Crawford’s 17 points. Four of the five starters scored 11 points or more and, as a team, the Clippers dished out 27 assists on 47 field goals.

“This is a fun way to play,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul said. “When the ball’s moving and guys are taking open shots and it’s about winning. It’s not about getting numbers or anything like that because at the end of the day when you win everybody is going to be successful and it’s fun getting to see other guys get in the game to play.”

The defense was outstanding for the Clippers, holding the Kings to 38.2% shooting (29-of-76). The Clippers are 8-0 when holding an opponent to 43% shooting or worse.

Difference Maker: Matt Barnes entered the game with 2:49 left in the first quarter and went right to work. He hammered down a breakaway two-handed slam dunk in his first 15 seconds of action after Lamar Odom found him wide open at half court off a John Salmons missed 3-pointer. Barnes had five points by the end of the period and nine by the time he left the game at the 5:23 mark in the second quarter. He finished with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range.

Moment of Truth: The Clippers’ heralded second unit came into the game to start the second quarter and, by the time they were done, had built an 18-point lead. They opened the quarter with an 18-7 scoring run to expand the lead to 46-24 halfway through the quarter. Ronny Turiaf was a big contributor to that run as he scored five points and blocked two shots in seven minutes in the period.

“They are just solid,” Paul said. “We’ve been talking about it all season; guys who know who they are. Matt Barnes, Ronny Turiaf, they know who they are. They are going to play hard, play the right way and not do anything to hurt us. They are good teammates and guys that you need on your team if you are going to try to win a championship.”

Stat Line of the Day: Crawford. He led the team in scoring for the sixth time this season, going 7-for-14 from the field and 3-of-5 from long distance. He has scored in double digits in 23 consecutive games and has 17 straight with at least one 3-pointer dating back to last season.

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Griffin. He scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 29 minutes. He also narrowly missed finishing a spectacular alley-oop in the first half after he was fouled by John Salmons.

Eric Bledsoe. One of three players to score in double figures off the bench, Bledsoe dropped in 14 on 6-for-11 shooting. He also had four assists and recorded a game-high four steals.

Marcus Thornton. He led the Kings in scoring with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting, one of just four players to shoot better than 50% in the game for Sacramento. He also made a game-high six 3-pointers.

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Hot: The Clippers First Half. They shot 23-of-42 (54.8%) in the first two quarters of the game, led by DeAndre Jordan (4-of-7) and Barnes (4-of-4) who each scored nine points by halftime. Of the 10 players who played in the first half, eight of them shot 50% or better. Jordan finished with 13 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.

Not: DeMarcus Cousins. One night after scoring 19 points and grabbing 16 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers, Cousins failed to score in double figures. He finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting in just 18 minutes. He was on the bench for the entire second quarter when the Clippers put the game away.

“I just didn’t like what was going on out on the floor, so I decided to go in a different direction,” Kings head coach Keith Smart said. “By the time I was ready to put him back in, the game was already out of control and that was about it.”

Quotables:

On the Clippers play tonight:

Smart: “They played a level that was very, very high. They have a group of players that play together and they have a bigger purpose with what they are doing and how they are playing and they show it.”

On the Clippers defensive effort:

Griffin: “It starts with defense. It starts on the defensive end. We need to get out and get open looks and it gets everyone going.”

On impact of tonight’s win:

Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro: “It’s a win for us. That’s what we came in here to do tonight and we got that done. That’s the main thing no matter what you win by. I am pleased by the overall effort.”

Notes: The Clippers held a moment of silence prior to the game for PA announcer David Courtney, who passed away Thursday morning… Kings guard Tyreke Evans (bruised left knee) did not play… With the win, the Clippers are 2-1 in Pacific Division games this season and remained in a first-place tie with the Golden State Warriors after their 103-92 win over the Pacers Saturday night… The Clippers have won four consecutive games against the Kings dating back to last season… Caron Butler scored 11 points, hitting three of his eight attempts from beyond the arc…The Clippers bench outscored the Kings reserves, 58-26.