The Los Angeles Clippers’ franchise record-tying 11th consecutive victory had owner Donald Sterling leading a ”hip, hip hooray” chant in the locker room.
Sterling grabbed the hand of coach Vinny Del Negro and held it up, exhorting his team, ”Let’s hear it for the coach.” Then he told Del Negro, ”Vinny, give me a hug” and the two men embraced.
”Eleven in a row. Not bad, is it?” Sterling said.
Blake Griffin scored 18 points and Jamal Crawford added 17 in the Clippers’ 93-77 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night that tied the franchise mark set by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves.
”That’s pretty special, especially to do it at home,” said Chris Paul, who had 10 points and 12 assists, giving him 5,003 in his career.
”The food tastes better, the music sounds better, you sleep a little better,” Paul said. ”Everything seems better when you’re winning.”
DeAndre Jordan added 12 points for the Clippers, whose 19-6 record is tied with New York for second-best in the NBA.
Robin Lopez scored 14 of his 22 points in the first quarter and rookie Anthony Davis added 16 for the Hornets. They lost their ninth in a row and 11th in 12 games while falling to 2-10 on the road. They were the last team to beat the Clippers on Nov. 26.
”We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy. They made shots that they didn’t make the last time we played them, and they got a lot of easy buckets,” Davis said. ”They’ve got a great team. They’re all capable of scoring the ball, from the starters to the bench.”
Four of the Clippers’ five starters took the fourth quarter off, with only Willie Green coming back in after having helped build a 19-point lead to start the final period. But the Hornets couldn’t get anything going against the second unit that has played a significant role in the Clippers’ current run.
”We’ve been getting off to good starts and not putting so much pressure on our bench,” Paul said.
The Hornets staged a brief rally to open the third. Davis scored five in a row in their 12-9 run that drew them within seven. The Clippers took over from there, outscoring New Orleans 18-6 to end the third leading 75-56. They made 8 of 10 free throws, while Paul’s fast-break dunk highlighted the spurt. Griffin grabbed his teammate as Paul swung wildly from the basket.
”Oh, did I dunk tonight?”’ said Paul, the least likely to dunk on a Clippers team nicknamed ”Lob City.”
Blake drew laughs when he said, ”You saw I had to help him down.”
”They really feed off their fast break,” Ryan Anderson said. ”They’re a team that runs, and when they get turnovers they break out and find open guys at the other end. They did that the whole second half and they took advantage of our mistakes.”
Paul fed Griffin for a layup late in the second quarter to notch his 5,000th assist, triggering a standing ovation. Griffin was fouled on the play and made the free throw. It came during an 11-0 run that provided the Clippers’ largest lead to that point, 46-30. Paul’s alley-oop pass to Griffin led to a fast-break dunk for the Clippers’ final basket of the half, with them leading 48-38.
”I didn’t know what everyone was cheering for,” Paul said.
Griffin said, ”It’s cool to be part of that. It’s definitely not the last. I’m looking forward to 10,000.”
The Hornets kept it close in the opening quarter, when they trailed 22-16 after Lopez scored 14 points. He was scoreless in the second quarter when he picked up his third foul.
Del Negro said Jordan turned his ankle during the game. … At 27 years, 228 days, Paul is the third-youngest player in NBA history to reach 5,000 assists, trailing Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas. He is the fifth-fastest to reach the milestone, needing 510 games. … New Orleans hasn’t won since Dec. 3 against Milwaukee. … Hornets G Eric Gordon missed the game against his former team because of a sore right knee. He smiled when Clippers fans chanted his name in the final 2½ minutes. … Returning home from a four-game trip, the Clippers had a moment of silence for the victims of last week’s school shootings in Connecticut.