Notebook: Clippers 101, Nets 95



Posted Mar 24, 2013 2:27 AM

By Dan Arritt, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: For a few anxious minutes in the Los Angeles Clippers' 101-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, it seemed like Chris Paul might not be around to save the day.

Paul went down late in the first quarter for the Clippers (48-22) after colliding with a Nets (40-29) player who was setting a back screen. He lay on the floor clutching his left knee then hobbled to the bench, where a large ice pack was attached. He returned, however, and the Clippers can thank him for scoring 17 of his team-high 29 points in the fourth quarter, including seven in the final 22 seconds to keep L.A. in fourth place in the Western Conference standings.

QUOTABLE: "I just tried to be aggressive on the ball screen and push the ball. Luckily, we got into the bonus early, which gave me the opportunity to attack, make them grab hold of me and just try to get to the free-throw line as much as possible."

--Chris Paul

THE STAT: For the second straight game, the Clippers played without starting shooting guard Chauncey Billups. But, once again, Willie Green proved more than capable of stepping into his shoes. Green, who usually falls out of the rotation when Billups is healthy, matched his season high with 15 points, including 10 in the opening quarter. He scored 13 points in relief of Billups in Wednesday's victory against the visiting 76ers. Billups is sidelined with a groin injury.

TURNING POINT: Paul broke a 90-90 tie when he took advantage of a defensive switch and sank a 20-footer over Reggie Evans. Jamal Crawford then stole a lazy pass from Deron Williams and scored on a breakaway dunk to extend the lead to four with 48 seconds left. Joe Johnson banked in a drive to pull Brooklyn back within two, but Paul split defenders as he drove into the lane and hit a fall-away five-footer as he was fouled by Williams. He made the free throw to push the lead to five with 22 seconds left, and then made four more in the last 16 seconds to secure the win.

HOT: Clippers center DeAndre Jordan has been the odd-man-out in a number of fourth quarters this season, as coach Vinny Del Negro often opts for a smaller lineup down the stretch. But he stayed with Jordan for most of the final quarter against the Nets, and that probably had a lot to do with his success earlier in the game. Jordan made all six of his field-goal attempts and scored 13 points. He also grabbed 12 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. In the last six games, he's a combined 25-for-28 from the floor. Gerald Wallace owned the third quarter for the Nets, a stretch in which they opened up an eight-point lead. He scored 13 of his 15 points in the third quarter, and some regular observers considered it his best 12 minutes of the season.

QUOTABLE II: "[Nets center Brook] Lopez is obviously big, so we needed some length on him. A lot of teams now go small and don't always have a big in there as much as a guy like Lopez. ... I thought [DeAndre Jordan] was very active, made some plays over the top for us."

--Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro

NOT: Clippers forward Blake Griffin had a tough matchup against Evans, and it's safe to say he lost that battle. Griffin tried a variety of spins, fakes and drop steps to get to the basket, but Evans didn't budge. Griffin ended up scoring 11 points on 4-for-11 shooting and only managed seven rebounds, compared to 16 for Evans.

GOOD MOVE: Johnson recognized his 40-pound size advantage on Green and Crawford, powering his way to 10 first-quarter points, most coming close to the basket. Unfortunately, Johnson was slowed by a right quad contusion in the third quarter and only managed five points in the second half. Brooklyn coach P.J. Carlesimo said after the game Johnson is questionable for Sunday's game in Phoenix.

BAD MOVE: As hot as Wallace was in the third quarter, the Nets were unable to get him any shots in the fourth. Brooklyn also hurt its chanced by missing four free throws on eight attempts in the final quarter and committing four turnovers that led to nine points by the Clippers.

NOTABLE: Brooklyn backup forward Kris Humphries played for the first time since March 2 and spent time guarding Lamar Odom. Humphries is trying to annul his five-week marriage to reality star Kim Kardashian, the sister of Odom's wife, Khloe, who sat courtside. ... The Clippers improved their league-leading record to 36-2 when leading after the first quarter. ... Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe returned after missing the previous five games with a sore left calf. He finished with seven points, including a three-point play with 8:02 left that gave L.A. its first lead since the second quarter. ... The Clippers have won a franchise-record 10 straight games against Eastern Conference opponents.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Tuesday @ Dallas, Wednesday @ New Orleans, Friday @ San Antonio. For the Nets, Sunday @ Phoenix, Wednesday @ Portland, Friday @ Denver.