Notebook: Clippers 96, Hornets 93

Posted Apr 13, 2013 12:14 AM

Bradley Handwerger, for

THE FACTS: In a tougher game than the Los Angeles Clippers would have liked with playoff seeding on the line, they came from 10 points down to beat the New Orleans Hornets 96-93. The Clippers used 10 points, two rebounds and assists and a block in the fourth quarter by Chris Paul to overcome the deficit. Paul finished with 17 points and 14 assists to go with seven rebounds to pace Los Angeles (54-26). Matt Barnes added 16 points and 10 rebounds and Jamal Crawford had 15 points off the bench.

New Orleans (27-53) led for much of the second half, including more than 12 straight minutes. But the inexperience of the team showed down the stretch, allowing the Clippers easy shots and rebounds. And free throws. Paul hits six consecutive free throws in the final 17 seconds to put the game away.

The Hornets were without rookie Anthony Davis (sprained left knee) and point guard Greivis Vasquez (sprained right ankle) as well as forward Lance Thomas (foot). New Orleans used an eight-man rotation with Brian Roberts doing everything he could from the point position to facilitate the offense. He scored 15 points, had 11 assists and grabbed six rebounds. Meanwhile, Eric Gordon had 25 points and Robin Lopez had 19 points and 12 rebounds.

But Los Angeles was too much. Two and a half weeks earlier, the Clippers won in New Orleans by 14. Friday night, they took a different route to the win. The Clippers held New Orleans to just 42 percent shooting, including 6-for-19 from 3-point range, and forced 13 turnovers, which they turned into 17 points. Los Angeles will now head to Memphis for a Saturday night showdown that could keep the Clippers on the West Coast in the opening round of the playoffs. Los Angeles trail the Grizzlies by a game with three to play for each.

QUOTABLE: "We had no real energy and not real rhythm. Sometimes you have to roll the dice and it worked this time."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro on his decision to go with a small lineup early in the fourth quarter.

THE STAT: New Orleans could have put the game out of reach much earlier if it had converted from the free-throw line. The Hornets hit on just 53.1 percent from the stripe, going 17-for-32 in the game.

TURNING POINT: The Hornets pushed their lead to 10 points on the second of two Gordon free throws. But then the Clippers got going, rattling off a 14-6 run to put them squarely back in the game with 3 and 1/2 minutes to go.

QUOTABLE II: "They're down, obviously. When you lose a game, you feel it. But at the same time, I want them to be down. If they were happy after a loss, I'd still be in there."
-- Hornets coach Monty Williams on the mood of the team.

HOT: Los Angeles' Crawford didn't have a particularly explosive night. But in the fourth quarter, he went 3-for-5, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range, making a big difference in Los Angeles' comeback. He also was 2-for-4 from the free-throw line and finished with 10 fourth-quarter points, a quarter of what Los Angeles scored in the defining quarter.

NOT: The Hornets' Ryan Anderson had a poor-shooting first half. The team's 3-point leader was 0-for-5 from long-range in the first 23 minutes. He had only five points at halftime. The team's leading free-throw shooter also was just 1-for-4 from the free-throw line.

GOOD MOVE: Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro had Paul on the bench to begin the fourth quarter. But with 8:50 play, he rolled the dice and put his floor leader back in the game. Thirty seconds later, the Clippers trailed by 10 but that would be it for the Hornets as Paul facilitated the comeback.

NOTABLE: Los Angeles won the season series 3-1 over New Orleans. ... New Orleans' Lopez recorded his seventh double-double of the season. ... New Orleans outscored the Clippers 27-8 in second-chance points. ... Los Angeles' bench outscored New Orleans' 47-10. ... Los Angeles' Paul had his 29th double-double of the season.

UP NEXT: For the Hornets, Sunday vs. Dallas, Wednesday @ Dallas. For the Clippers, Saturday @ Memphis, Tuesday vs. Portland, Wednesday @ Sacramento.