Crawford shoots short-handed Clippers past Houston Rockets
LOS ANGELES (dpa) – Chris Paul sat out his second game in as many nights with a bruised right knee cap, but again the Los Angeles Clippers barely missed their All-Star point guard.
Jamal Crawford led a balanced attack with 15 of his season-high 30 points in the fourth quarter and the visiting Clippers shot past the Houston Rockets 117-109 on Tuesday night.
“Jamal got going in the fourth to take over the game,” said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro of his streaky-shooting sixth man. “Once Jamal gets going, he’s going to score no matter who you put on him.”
The Clippers improved to 11-1 with Crawford at the helm, but the league’s top scoring reserve gave credit to his unselfish teammates after making 11-of-20 shots, including five three-pointers in the win.
“It’s all about my teammates, and they all got me going setting some great screens, giving good passes,” he said. “It’s never about me, it’s about all the little things the other guys do.
“We do it collectively, that’s what it’s all about. We all pull for each other, and we’re all in it together and that’s how we win.”
Eric Bledsoe, filling in for Paul, collected a season-best 19 points along with seven rebounds and five assists for the Clippers (30-9), who moved one-half game behind idle Oklahoma City for the best record in the league following their 22nd win in the last 25 outings.
“We’re playing great team basketball,” Bledsoe said. “Everybody is having fun and we’re winning.”
Blake Griffin netted 19 points, Matt Barnes had 18 off the bench and Willie Green finished with a season-high 15 for the Clippers, who took control with a 32-18 third quarter.
After manhandling the Memphis Grizzlies 99-73 Monday night, the Clippers took control against the Rockets at the start of the third quarter with a 25-6 run to open up an 83-65 advantage with 5 ½ minutes remaining in the period. Green scored nine points, while Griffin and Bledsoe added seven and six respectively.
“I was pleased how we came out in the third quarter,” Del Negro said. “We started guarding a little bit better and Willie did a great job.”
The Clippers carried a 90-77 cushion into the final frame and rode the hot-shooting of Crawford. The speedy guard knocked down five straight baskets, including a pair of three-pointers, pushing the lead to 102-82 with just three minutes gone by and the visitors stayed in front by double digits the rest of the way.
“Hopefully, we’ll get Chris back healthy,” Crawford said. “But right now, we’ll have to hold down the fort until he gets back.”
James Harden scored 23 points, Chandler Parsons and Argentine Carlos Delfino added 17 and 16 respectively for the Rockets, who lost their fourth in a row.
“We’ve got to be better, especially on the defensive end,” Harden said. “We scored (109 points) but defensively we have to guard in order to win games. It’s simple. We’re not guarding anyone.”
- Indiana Pacers 103, Charlotte Bobcats 76: Roy Hibbert had 18 points, Paul George and George Hill added 16 apiece as the visiting Pacers rolled to their fifth win in six games while sending the reeling Bobcats to their 13th straight home loss and 24th in the last 26 overall.
- Brooklyn Nets 113, Toronto Raptors 106: Brook Lopez scored 22 points, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams added 21 apiece as the surging Nets rolled to their season-high seventh straight win after trimming the visiting Raptors, who were led by Kyle Lowry’s 21.
- LA Lakers 104, Milwaukee Bucks 88: Dwight Howard powered for 31 points with 16 rebounds, Kobe Bryant also scored 31 and the Lakers bounced the visiting Bucks for their second straight win following a season-high six-game slide.
Lakers big man Pau Gasol missed his fifth straight game as the Spaniard recovers from a concussion. He is scheduled to be examined by a neurologist and could return for Thursday’s home contest against the Miami Heat.
Monta Ellis netted 17 points for Milwaukee, which dropped to 3-2 under interim head coach Jim Boylan after shooting a frosty 36 per cent from the floor.
- New Orleans Hornets 111, Philadelphia 76ers 99: Venezuelan Greivis Vasquez netted 23 points, Eric Gordon added 19, leading the visiting Hornets past the Sixers, who were led by Jrue Holiday’s 29 points and 11 assists.
- Denver Nuggets 115, Portland Trail Blazers 111 (OT): Italy’s Danilo Gallinari scored 25 points, and Wilson Chandler hit a tie-breaking corner triple with 14.9 seconds remaining in overtime, sending the Nuggets past the visiting Trail Blazers for their season-high sixth straight win.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points, and Frenchman Nicolas Batum had 22 for the Trail Blazers, who fell to 5-1 in extra session contests this season.