Clippers 88, Pistons 76

The Los Angeles Clippers are learning to adapt.

Playing their fourth road game in seven nights, they could have
easily been overrun by the often overlooked Detroit Pistons.

Not this club.

Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead
the weary Clippers to their 10th straight win, 88-76 over the
Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

”We didn’t shoot very well, and we didn’t do a lot of things we
wanted to do,” said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. ”We just had
a lot of guys make plays down the stretch and we get to go home
with another win. Early in the season, we probably lose that game,
but now we’ve gotten to the point where we can win ugly.”

No Clippers player scored more than 15 points, but they had five
players score in double figures.

”This was a tough one, because we’ve been playing every other
night and we’re ready to go home,” said Detroit native Willie
Green. ”This was a great test for us, and we passed it.”

Blake Griffin also had 15 points for Los Angeles and Paul had
seven assists. Griffin had two breakaway dunks in the last 30
seconds, one on a pass banked off the backboard by Matt Barnes.

”When I saw that it was just the two of us, I told him to keep
coming,” Barnes joked. ”I figured a lot more people wanted to see
Blake dunk than wanted to see me lay one in.”

Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 and Tayshaun Prince added
15. Detroit, which committed 17 turnovers, lost its fifth

”We did enough defensive things to win the game, but when you
are going against a team that strips and steals the ball and is
very aggressive, everything has to be sharp,” said Pistons coach
Lawrence Frank. ”We have to be more precise, and in the last six
minutes, you know it is going to be harder against a team like
that, but we have to be able to do it.”

Both teams struggled in the first half, with the Clippers taking
a 42-40 lead into the intermission despite shooting just 39
percent. Detroit hit 42.5 percent of its shots, but managed only
one free throw and two offensive rebounds. The Clippers tried for
the last shot of the half, but Prince stole the ball and two quick
passes gave Greg Monroe a wide-open layup at the buzzer.

Los Angeles got things in gear in the third quarter, quickly
taking a 12-point advantage, but Griffin went to the bench with
four fouls and Detroit was able to work its way back into the

The Pistons were within 63-60 at quarter’s end behind 13 points
from Prince, but couldn’t keep up the pressure.

”We played a good first half, but once we turned it over a
couple times in the third, we let them get out and do their
thing,” Prince said. ”We didn’t execute in the second half, and
that’s when you need it the most.”

Detroit committed three turnovers in a period of four
possessions and Jason Maxiell missed a pair of free throws on the
fourth, allowing Los Angeles to take an 11-point advantage with
6:45 to play. Brandon Knight also missed a technical-foul free
throw in the stretch.

”We weren’t hitting a lot of shots, but we trusted our defense
to make plays,” Barnes said. ”That was the way we finally won the

The Pistons kept up the pressure, pulling down four offensive
rebounds on one possession in the last 90 seconds, but couldn’t hit
enough shots to make a serious rally.

”They turned on that playoff mentality, stepped up their
defense and kind of shut us down,” said rookie Andre Drummond.
”The fourth quarter has been an issue all year. We aren’t closing
games out.”

NOTES: Former Pistons All-Stars Chauncey Billups (foot) and
Grant Hill (knee) were both inactive for the Clippers, while Rodney
Stuckey (back spasms) missed the game for Detroit. Billups, the MVP
of Detroit’s championship win in 2004, received a loud
”Chaun-Cey!” chant from the crowd during a fourth-quarter
timeout. … Several members of the University of Michigan football
team attended the game, including team captains Denard Robinson and
Jordan Kovacs. Robinson, who hasn’t thrown a pass since late
October due to an elbow injury, tossed a Nerf football to the
Pistons mascot during a timeout.