Blake Griffin had his knees wrapped and his feet dunked in a bucket of ice. Mo Williams, sporting the same look, sat in the chair next to his teammate and just chuckled.
While it might not have looked like on the surface, this one was a laugher.
Chris Paul had 22 points and nine assists, Blake Griffin added 14 points and nine rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers coasted past the Sacramento Kings 108-100 on Thursday night.
The Clippers build a 19-point lead in the fourth that allowed most of the starters to rest.
”I was just telling Mo,” Griffin said, breaking away from the postgame banter. ”To be in a game like this where I think we were only in the fourth quarter for like 2-3 minutes, it’s great. You don’t have to finish the game off and get the extra rest, especially with this stretch of games coming up.”
Just what Los Angeles needed.
Williams made all four of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to finish with 18 points, helping the Clippers build a 19-point lead and begin a stretch of four games in five nights with a victory. After losing three of the previous four games, Los Angeles will play at Phoenix on Friday night with a little extra rest.
”I think the minutes are pretty good. Nobody played any heavy minutes, which is big for us,” said Williams, who finished 4 for 7 from beyond the arc. ”You always want to have games like this, especially on the road.”
Sacramento evened the score at the half, but faded late.
DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Tyreke Evans scored 18 points for the Kings, who had won two straight. Sacramento still had some good news Thursday: The city and team announced a financing plan for a new $391 million arena that would keep the franchise in California’s capital for at least another 30 years.
”Our tempo was just too slow tonight and that starts with me,” said King guard Isaiah Thomas, who had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists on the day he was named Western Conference rookie of the month for February. ”I feel like it was my fault this game because I didn’t see my team going early.
Sacramento’s other rebuilding project remains a work in progress.
Griffin had two dunks – including a soaring, uncontested tomahawk slam that had the home fans buzzing – and Paul taunted the Kings bench after a pull-up jumper as the Clippers scored 11 straight points to go ahead 83-72 late in the third quarter.
The offense steamrolled Sacramento the rest of the way. Williams made four 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter, Los Angeles built a 19-point lead and never looked back.
”The top-level team made a lot of plays,” Kings coach Keith Smart said.
Griffin had a trio of dunks in the first half to lift Los Angeles to a 10-point lead behind the team’s usual high-flying theatrics. After the Clippers started to pull away, the muscling and tussling under the rim escalated.
As players headed to opposite benches during a timeout, Clippers big man Reggie Evans walked by Francisco Garcia with an elbow near the Sacramento forward’s head. Garcia slapped his hand toward Evans’ head and Los Angeles’ Kenyon Martin joined in the scrum, getting whistled for a technical foul.
If only for a moment, the emotions fueled Sacramento’s surge.
Rookie Jimmer Fredette made back-to-back 3-pointers – the second coming well behind the line with Paul pressuring – to give the Kings a 52-44 lead in the second quarter, bringing fans roaring to their feet, including co-owner Gavin Maloof leaping off the ground from his courtside seat next to his brother, Joe. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has led the charge for a new arena, also applauded from about 10 seats over.
The two sides are nearing the final step in an arena deal that seemed improbable a year ago. Sacramento and the Kings released the $391 million financing plan earlier Thursday night.
The City Council will vote on the project Tuesday night.
Notes: Kings F J.J. Hickson left in the third quarter with a lower back bruise. He will not travel with the team to Los Angeles, where the Kings play the Lakers on Friday night. … Thomas, the 60th and final pick of last year’s NBA draft, led conference rookies in February in scoring (12.2 points per game) and was second in assists (4.4 per game).