Paul’s 29 points help Clippers beat Nets
LOS ANGELES (AP) — After going 4-4 in their previous eight games, the Los Angeles Clippers
were looking to set a tone for themselves before heading out on their
last big road trip before the playoffs.
Chris Paul made sure it started with him.
All-Star guard scored 17 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter after
banging his left knee early in the game and the Clippers held off the
Brooklyn Nets 101-95 on Saturday night in a matchup of playoff-bound
“A lot of these games we’ve been letting get away from
us,” Paul said. “Tonight we found a way to get stops when we needed and
we got some big buckets when we needed them.
Paul made 12 of 13
free throws and had 11 assists while going against Deron Williams.
Willie Green added 15 points, DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and 12
rebounds, and Blake Griffin scored 11 points for the Clippers, who
improved to 28-8 at home and won their second in a row.
It was their franchise-record 10th consecutive victory against an Eastern Conference team.
“We played the best in the biggest moments,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.
Nets were led by Brook Lopez and Williams with 18 points each. Gerald
Wallace and Joe Johnson added 15 points each and ex-Clipper Reggie Evans
had 16 rebounds while holding down Griffin’s numbers.
“It’s tough because we did so well for 3 quarters, and then the way it ended, I felt it was really our game,” Lopez said.
Clippers got a scare in the first quarter when Paul bumped his left
knee with Keith Bogans and briefly left the game. It was similar to what
happened to Paul in January when he ended up with a bruised right
kneecap after colliding with J.J. Redick and missed games.
question,” Paul said when asked if he experienced a flashback. “I know
it wasn’t done on purpose. It’s just one of those things when people are
setting screens on you, they just didn’t give me a step. Hopefully
it’ll be all right.”
Del Negro was uneasy when he saw Paul’s collision, especially with just 12 games remaining in the regular season.
“I wasn’t happy he hit knees, but if I had to pick a knee I was glad it was the left,” he said.
carried the Clippers in the fourth when they rallied from five points
down to take the lead for the first time since the second period and
avoid a season sweep by the Nets.
The Nets tied it at 90-all on four straight points by Lopez.
needed a couple more free throws or a few less turnovers down the
stretch,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “We put ourselves in a
position to win the game, and they just did a much better job closing
it out than we did.”
Paul’s jumper put the Clippers back in front
92-90. Jamal Crawford, who finished with 13 points, stole the ball from
Williams and dunked on the fast break for a 94-90 lead with 48 seconds
“That was the biggest play of the game,” Paul said. “I had
no clue what was happening. I was guarding D-Will. I heard the crowd go
Williams called his error “definitely a huge and costly play, and one I wish I could get back.
“They just pick-and-rolled us to death, and we just didn’t do a good job as a team of defending it in the second half,” he said.
running layup cut the lead to two points before Paul completed a
three-point play for a 97-92 lead with 22 seconds left.
Paul scored 11 of the Clippers’ final 13 points.
takes command of the offense within the last four or five minutes and
he makes sure they get a great shot every time,” Johnson said, “and
that’s what they did. We had a lot of open looks that we normally make,
and we just came up short a few times.”
Eric Bledsoe returned for
the Clippers after missing the last five games with a sore left calf.
He scored seven points in about 10 minutes, and Paul credited him with
being “all over the ball. That’s a point guard’s nightmare.”
scored six points in the Clippers’ 18-11 spurt that began with Paul’s
3-pointer and was capped with one from Caron Butler that tied the game
at 65-all late in the third. Jordan scored on back-to-back alley-oops
from Paul and Griffin.
From there, the Nets outscored the Clippers 10-5 to lead 75-70 heading into the final 12 minutes.
Nets led most of the second quarter and a free throw by Evans put them
up 48-47 at the break. The Clippers led by eight points in the first
quarter, when they made 5 of 10 3-pointers, before the Nets closed on a
14-7 run to trail 25-24.
NOTES: The Nets were seeking
their first road win against the Clippers since Nov. 15, 2010. … The
Clippers’ old consecutive win streak against the East was nine games
from Feb. 19-Nov. 14, 2001. … The Clippers clinched a playoff berth in
consecutive seasons for the third time in franchise history after Utah
lost in overtime to San Antonio on Friday. … Clippers G Chauncey
Billups missed his second straight game because of a strained right
groin. … The Clippers’ Lamar Odom guarded Kris Humphries for a while
in the first half, with Odom’s wife Khloe Kardashian looking on. The
trio is still officially related through Kim Kardashian’s brief marriage
to Humphries; their divorce trial is set for May 6.