Notebook: Clippers 97, Kings 85



Posted Dec 22, 2012 2:12 AM

By Dan Arritt, For NBA.com

THE FACTS: The Clippers still have a lot to accomplish this season: home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, a deep postseason run and maybe even the franchise's first trip to the NBA finals. But they already accomplished something no other team has done in club history, winning their 12th consecutive game Friday night by defeating the visiting Kings 97-85 at Staples Center.

THE STAT: Some of the most impressive numbers during the streak have been manufactured by Los Angeles' bench, which entered the game ranked second in the league in scoring. Against Sacramento, however, it was the All-Stars who came out to shine. Chris Paul finished with 24 points, 13 assists and five steals and Blake Griffin had 21 points and 13 rebounds for his seventh 20-10 game this season for L.A. (20-6).

QUOTABLE: "That's what All-Stars do. I expect that from them, they expect it and their teammates do. "

---Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on his top players

TURNING POINT: Playing the second half without troubled starting center DeMarcus Cousins, who was told to stay in the locker room after an argument with KIngs coach Keith Smart during halftime, the Kings (8-18) still managed to cut a 13-point halftime deficit to six with 4:24 remaining in the third quarter. The Clippers didn't flinch, however. They brought reserves Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom into the game for starters Willie Green and DeAndre Jordan, following up with a 10-2 run to go back up by 14. Sacramento never got closer than seven down the stretch.

HOT: Clippers reserve forward Matt Barnes scored 13 points, establishing a career high with his sixth straight game in double figures. Sacramento reserve guard Jimmer Fredette continues to establish himself as an NBA player. He scored 16 points off the bench for his fourth straight game in double figures. He shot 2-for-3 from 3-point range to improve to 8-for-16 in the last four.

NOT: Something seemed amiss when Chuck Hayes started the second half in place of Cousins, who has already been suspended twice by the league this season. Cousins had nine points and five rebounds in 20 minutes of the first half and appeared to be playing well. When the Kings lost to the Clippers 116-81 on Dec. 1, Cousins was also benched in the second and fourth quarters because of uninspired play.

QUOTABLE II: "It was conduct detrimental to the team and I'll leave it at that."

--Keith Smart

GOOD MOVE: Griffin and Paul didn't completely overshadow the reserves. Eric Bledsoe made the block of the night and possibly the entire season for L.A. when he came up from behind Thomas Robinson during a Sacramento fast break. Just as Robinson was about to stuff the ball through the rim, Bledsoe nearly jumped over him as he swatted the ball away and then crashed hard to the floor. As Bledsoe lay on the court following the block, the Clippers took off on a fast break of their own and Ronny Turiaf finished it with a dunk. Bledsoe stayed on the floor for a few anxious seconds before he was helped up and eventually returned after the media timeout. Bledsoe finished with a career-high three blocks, all in the first half.

BAD MOVE: The Kings were already short-handed with Tyreke Evans out for his third straight game with soreness in his left knee. His replacement in the starting lineup, Francisco Garcia, was also sidelined with back spasms. It didn't help when Jason Thompson picked up two fouls in the first 4:12 of the game while trying to guard Griffin, and things got even worse when Cousins didn't come out for the second half.

NOTABLE: Barnes received his league-leading eighth technical foul of the season during the fourth quarter. ... The Clippers entered the day ranked No. 1 in the league in steals (10.6). They had 13 more against Sacramento. ... Paul is the first player in the NBA to have at least 24 points, 13 assists and five steals in a game. Last season there were three: Paul, Jeremy Lin, and Rajon Rondo.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Sunday @ Phoenix, Tuesday vs. Denver, Thursday vs. Boston. For the Kings, Sunday vs. Portland, Wednesday @ Portland, Friday vs. New York.