Clippers clobber Cavs for 11th win in a row
Clippers clobber Cavs for 11th win in a row
LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul said the Los Angeles Clippers are playing their best ball at the right time.
The Clippers captured their 11th consecutive win Sunday, rolling to a 102-80 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center. Seven Clippers scored in double figures, but defense played the biggest difference in the outcome.
“It’s nice to see 3s and dunks and stuff go in, but the most frustrating thing you can do to another team is to stop them defensively,” said Paul, the Clippers point guard who finished with 16 points and 15 assists. “I think that’s where we’re making our imprint on the games and what we have to continue to do.”
Forward Blake Griffin led the Pacific Division-leading Clippers with 21 points, and he added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Center DeAndre Jordan contributed 15 points and 11 rebounds, while guard Reggie Bullock came off the bench to score 14 points.
“We moved the ball,” said Paul, noting the team’s 32 assists compared to 19 for Cleveland. “We had a lot of unselfish plays. I think one thing that really changed for us was when I was out, Doc (Rivers) talked to me about kicking the ball ahead, and it’s been fun kicking the ball ahead to Blake and letting Blake push it and make plays. It’s not always about the assist.”
The win allowed the Clippers (48-20) to pull within a game of the second-place Oklahoma City Thunder, who were pounded by the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, in the Western Conference race. The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Cavaliers (26-41).
Cleveland coach Mike Brown was extremely impressed with the Clippers.
“They got a chance to win it all,” Brown said. “You look at how deep their roster is, Doc is a great coach and they’re experienced. They’ve got playoff experience. They’ve got NBA All-Stars. They’ve got NBA All-Stars coming off the bench.”
Griffin, who celebrated his 25th birthday Sunday, scored at least 20 points for a career-high 26th game in a row.
“It’s crazy. I didn’t know how old he was turning,” said Paul, 28. “He’s 25, but I feel like it’s been so long ago (that he joined the Clippers). Seriously, Blake is so mature. We’ve been together for three years, and sometimes I think we’re the same age. We always say the sky is the limit for him, but it really is. He’s unbelievable.”
Forward Luol Deng led the Cavaliers with 23 points. Reserve guard Dion Waiters finished with 15 points, and center Spencer Hawes had 14.
Cleveland lost point guard Kyrie Irving in the first quarter due to a left biceps injury, and he did not return. Irving, who finished with two points, two assists and four rebounds, will be re-evaluated Monday.
The Cavaliers won five of their last six outings against the Clippers at Staples, but this time they fell into a big hole early and were unable to climb out of it.
Los Angeles took a double-digit lead in the first quarter and coasted until the fourth, when the Cavaliers opened the quarter with a 10-0 run and pulled within 76-69 after a floater by guard Jarrett Jack with 9:22 remaining. However, a 14-4 spurt by the Clippers pushed the lead to 90-73, and the Cavaliers were never a factor again.
“We just can’t come out and start games like that,” Jack said. “We had a lull period for almost a quarter and a half. We just didn’t go out and compete. Fighting an uphill battle against a team like them is a tough task.”
The Clippers had a 25-5 advantage in fast-break points and also committed only seven turnovers to 17 for the Cavaliers.
Clippers guard Darren Collison did not play because of a stomach virus. Guard Willie Green, who scored 10 points, started in his place and scored 10 points.
NOTES: Los Angeles didn’t commit a turnover in the first quarter. Cleveland gave the ball away five times in the period. … Clippers G Jamal Crawford missed his fourth consecutive game due to a strained left calf. Crawford is listed as day-to-day, but Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said he doesn’t know when Crawford will return. Rivers also isn’t sure about the return of G J.J. Redick, who sat out his 13th straight contest because of a bulging disk in his back. … The Clippers are 7-0 when G Darren Collison starts in the backcourt with PG Chris Paul. … The Cavaliers held Los Angeles to 32.2 percent (28-of-87) shooting — a season best against an opponent — in their 88-82 win at Cleveland on Dec. 7. … Cleveland finished its three-game West Coast swing Sunday. The Cavaliers return home to face the Miami Heat on Tuesday. … Los Angeles visits the Denver Nuggets on Monday.