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

straight.

”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

game.

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

game.”

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.