The Los Angeles Clippers took advantage of Roy Hibbert's suspension Thursday night. Between Blake Griffin's dunks and Chris Paul's drives...
INDIANAPOLIS — The Los Angeles Clippers took advantage of Roy Hibbert’s suspension Thursday night.
Between Blake Griffin’s dunks and Chris Paul’s drives, the Clippers’ stars dominated the middle, forced Indiana into an uncharacteristically sloppy game and beat the Pacers at their own physical game inside, too.
It was the perfect recipe for getting past one of the NBA’s hottest teams.
Paul scored 29 points, one short of his season high, and Griffin finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds as the Clippers held off Indiana’s frenetic late charge for a 99-91 victory.
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“I watch the Pacers a lot. (David) West is like my brother, and they have been beating teams real bad lately, especially here at home,” Paul said. “So I think this is a good win for us. I think every night we are going into different arenas and the other team knows they are in for a dogfight. I think we’re becoming like a San Antonio or a Miami or any of the other top teams.”
On paper, it looked like any other night for the Clippers.
They dominated in the paint, outscoring Indiana 50-32. Griffin finished with at least 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists in his eighth straight game and, of course, added a couple of more dunks to his highlight reel.
Paul, second in the league in assists per game, had eight more on a night he went 11 of 18 from the field, 6 of 6 from the free-throw line and grabbed six rebounds. And Jamal Crawford from Rainier Beach High School scored 23 points in 27 minutes off the bench.
Los Angeles (42-18) won its third straight and this time beat one of the NBA’s best home teams on its own court.
• Kobe Bryant scored 33 points and Antawn Jamison added 17 in the host Los Angeles Lakers’ 21st consecutive victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 116-94. Bryant and Jodie Meeks each hit four of Los Angeles’ 16 three-pointers, and Meeks finished with 16 points. The Lakers (29-30) have won 12 of 17 and five of seven while moving within two games of Houston for the eighth playoff position in the West with their longest stretch of solid play in this season.
• Joakim Noah had 23 points, 21 rebounds and a career-high 11 blocks for his third career triple-double and the host Chicago Bulls ended a two-game losing streak with a 93-82 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. Jrue Holiday paced the Sixers with 22 points and former Husky Spencer Hawes added 20 points and 15 rebounds.
Noah tied the Bulls record for blocks in a regulation game, set by Artis Gilmore in 1977.
“His will from the start of the game until the end was just incredible,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He was everywhere — blocked shots, switching, guarding everyone. Big-time multiple efforts.”