LOS ANGELES (AP) Blake Griffin had 37 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 114-109 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night.
J.J. Redick added 23 points and Chris Paul had 17 points and 11 assists for the Clippers, who won their fifth straight and 18th in the last 21 meetings with the Kings. The streak includes a 111-104 win at Sacramento last Wednesday in the season opener for both clubs.
DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 18 rebounds for the Clippers, putting him within 31 of Elton Brand’s franchise record of 4,710 rebounds. The Clippers are off to their first 3-0 start since winning their first four games in 2007-08.
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Rajon Rondo had 21 points and eight assists and Rudy Gay added 20 points for the Kings, who finished with 50 points in the paint a night after scoring an astounding 80 there during Friday night’s 132-114 home victory over the Lakers.
DeMarcus Cousins had 13 points and nine rebounds in the loss, but was limited to 15 minutes because of a sore right Achilles. Seven-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein, the team’s first-round draft pick, had eight points and nine rebounds.
Trailing by eight points after Jamal Crawford’s 17-footer with 7:35 left in the fourth quarter, the Kings pulled ahead 96-95 with a 9-0 run capped by Gay’s 3-pointer and two free throws with 6:13 to play.
But the Clippers responded with 10 straight points, eight by Griffin, to make it 103-96 with 4:23 left. Former Clipper Darren Collison, who scored 11 of his 15 points off the bench, hit a 3 to make it 106-103 with 2:22 left, but the Clippers hung on despite not making a field goal over the final 3:05.
Griffin stole the ball from Gay near the Kings’ basket, then got a return pass from Paul on the ensuing fast break and made a layup and a free throw after getting fouled by Collison. That cut Sacramento’s margin to 35-27 with 8:45 left in the second quarter.
Kings: Coach George Karl appeared amused before the game when asked about Cousins’ remark following the previous meeting with the Clippers that he hates them. ”I like passion. I like anything that keeps you kind of having the edge on competition,” Karl said. ”I think it’s important. I don’t think people understand that energy and competitive mentality is a talent in this league. Everybody says it’s a mentality, but it’s a talent. And to be able to do what DeMarcus does – put 20 points on the board with double-digit rebounds and being our best defensive player every night – is a tremendous responsibility. He’s just learning the ropes of being a responsible player in our league.”
Clippers: Coach Doc Rivers’ regular pregame media session was handled by assistant coach Mike Woodson. Rivers spent Saturday morning in Minnesota along with Karl for the funeral of Flip Saunders, the former Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards coach who died last Sunday at age 60 after complications from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Rivers and Karl sat next to each other on the plane back to Los Angeles, and they were working on their respective scouting reports together, according to Karl.