FINAL | February 4, 2013 | Verizon Center, Washington, DC

Clippers

16

30

20

24

90

LOGO

24

27

21

26

98

 

ERIC PATTEN 

WASHINGTON–The effort was there, but the Clippers, down three starters, could not avoid their third loss in a row.

After Caron Butler’s baseline layup made it a one-point game midway through the fourth quarter, Washington pulled away, defeating the Clippers, 98-90, at Verizon Center at the halfway point of their season-long eight-game road trip. 

The Clippers, already without Chris Paul (knee) and Chauncey Billups (foot), scratched Blake Griffin a few minutes before tipoff. Griffin aggravated a strained left hamstring in pregame warm-ups, snapping a streak of 197 career starts for the three-time All-Star and leaving the Clippers (34-16) with nine available players. 

“It’s such a long season,” Jamal Crawford said. “I think if you get on that emotional roller coaster of highs and lows you’ll drive yourself crazy. We understand we have guys injured, but that’s no excuse.” 

Lamar Odom started in place of Griffin, but it was center DeAndre Jordan who picked up a majority of the slack in Griffin’s absence. Jordan, who scored seven points (all three field goals coming on dunks), set a career high with 22 rebounds. 

Crawford scored a game-high 28 points off the bench and 11 in the fourth quarter, including his NBA regular-season-record 36th career 4-point play to bring the Clippers within six with 1:06 to go.

Caron Butler added 15 points and Eric Bledsoe had 17 and nine assists, but it wasn’t enough against a Wizards team that got double-digits from five players and converted down the stretch when the shorthanded Clippers stumbled. 

L.A. committed three turnovers during an 11-2 run from Washington (12-35) after Butler’s layup and had eight miscues in the final quarter. 

“We just turned it over,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Guys trying to do much and end up turning it over then [the Wizards] would get fast breaks, which end in easy baskets. Our defense was set in the half court. We gave up too many offensive rebounds and really the turnovers did us in tonight with the mix and match lineups out there.”

Bledsoe, who had four of the team’s 20 turnovers, said turnovers are part of the game, but it’s still something that has to be cleaned up.

“Turnovers are going to happen,” Bledsoe said. “It’s just compounding them. We’d turn the ball over and not get back on defense, so turnovers are going to happen. We just can’t compound our mistakes.”

The Wizards scored 24 points off of Clippers’ miscues, helping build a 10-point lead in the first half. However, the Clippers came back behind Crawford’s shooting and Bledsoe’s aggressiveness. The young guard made several plays at the rim, scoring 10 of his 17 points by the midway point of the second quarter. 

The Clippers were within five at halftime and took a lead after Jordan threw down a right-handed dunk on a shovel pass from Bledsoe on the possession before Bledsoe connected on a step-back jumper. Willie Green’s baseline jump shot off an extra pass from Butler put L.A. up, 63-60. But Martell Webster, who led Washington with 21 points, drained a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to tie it and the Wizards would close the third quarter on a 14-2 run to gain a lead they would never relinquish. 

“We have to play hard, and we have to try to give some guys some minutes who usually don’t have that many,” Del Negro said. “Hopefully, it will make them stronger when we get three starters back. It’s frustrating because we have opportunities down the stretch but we’re not able to execute well enough or make enough plays offensively or defensively.”

Notes: The Clippers are 5-6 this season without Paul in the lineup… Jordan had half of the team’s 44 rebounds… With Paul and Griffin, two of the team’s top three players in steals, out, the Clippers managed just six steals on the night… Crawford has scored 20 points or more off the bench a league-best 19 times… The Wizards are 3-4 with John Wall in the starting lineup this year. He had 13 points and eight assists, including a left-handed dunk on a fast break that helped seal the game… Odom scored three points with nine rebounds and fouled out in the final minute in place of Griffin. He’s had at least seven rebounds in every game but three since Jan. 12. 

 

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