Clippers rout Suns for record 50th win


Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The Clippers got their franchise-record 50th victory in their fourth try. It didn’t come without some fireworks that had nothing to do with celebrating.

DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Chris Paul added 14 points and 12 assists, and Los Angeles led all the way in beating the last-place Phoenix Suns 126-101 on Wednesday night as tempers flared in the fourth quarter.

“It’s big,” Jordan said about the landmark win, “but we’re looking at the bigger picture. This is one thing we can check off.”

Willie Green and Caron Butler scored 15 points each, and Blake Griffin had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds to help the Clippers end a three-game skid with their second-highest scoring total of the season. They improved to 50-26 overall, bettering the single-season record for wins set in 1974-75 when the team was in Buffalo. They’re 29-9 at home.

“Whenever you do something first it’s significant, but we expect more and we should,” coach Vinny Del Negro said.

Griffin added, “We feel like we could have been a 60-win team.”

The Clippers needed to win and have Golden State lose to New Orleans to clinch the franchise’s first division title. But the Warriors won 98-88, postponing another first by this Clippers team.

“Ever since I got here we talked about setting a precedent,” Paul said.

Wesley Johnson scored 20 points and Jermaine O’Neal added 18 for the last-place Suns, who have lost seven straight overall, 13 of their last 15, and six in a row on the road. Goran Dragic, who didn’t score his first basket until the start of the third quarter, finished with 12.

“We didn’t contend while they were penetrating and scoring some easy baskets,” Dragic said. “We’re not going to make the playoffs, so just try to compete until the end of the season.”

The Clippers pulled away in the third, outscoring the Suns 38-20 to lead 95-70 going into the fourth. Jordan’s teammates set him up for three high-flying dunks — he had eight total in the game — while Griffin and Paul got ones of their own in, too.

“It’s all energy and effort,” Del Negro said about Jordan. “He was active and running the court. When he moves like that it makes the game easier for him and the team.”

Griffin and Phoenix teammates P.J. Tucker and O’Neal had to be separated at one point after they tangled with Griffin while double-teaming him.

The bad blood didn’t stop there.

With 8:57 left in the game and the Clippers starters on the bench, Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer and Ryan Hollins put his left arm around Dragic’s neck as they scrambled for position under the basket. Their momentum carried them over to the Suns’ bench, with Hollins keeping Dragic in a headlock before shoving him and Michael Beasley shouting at Hollins in the tangle of players.

Lamar Odom pulled on Hollins’ jersey to get him away. After the referees reviewed the play, Hollins was called for a flagrant-2 foul and ejected, while Beasley received a technical.

“It was just a quick play in the heat of the moment,” Hollins said. “I definitely didn’t have intent to hurt and I don’t think he did, either.”

In the first quarter, Griffin and Tucker received double technicals.

“Ryan had a nice 45 seconds there when he and Goran Dragic almost had a WWE battle,” Jordan joked.

The Clippers dominated the paint with a season-high 72 points to Phoenix’s 32, and had a 25-11 edge in fast break points.

“We played fast, we got tempo up and got some stops,” Paul said. “We forced 19 turnovers and only had six ourselves.”

Los Angeles opened the game on a 15-0 run for its largest lead of the half. The Suns twice got within two points on baskets by Beasley, but the Clippers used a 10-5 spurt, including six free throws by Paul, to lead 57-50 at the break.

“To come out and give up 15 points without them executing one single play is embarrassing,” Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter said.

KNICKS 95, HAWKS 82

ATLANTA — Carmelo Anthony scored 40 points — giving him 90 in two games — and Raymond Felton had three straight baskets in a key spurt, helping the Knicks to their 10th straight victory.

Anthony, coming off a 50-point effort in a win over Miami on Tuesday, scored 24 points in the first half. He shot 17 of 27 from the field and was 5 for 6 from the free throw line.

Felton sparked a 12-2 run that turned a tie game into an 84-74 lead for the Knicks. He scored eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Knicks move into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference.

Atlanta missed an opportunity to move into a tie for fourth in the East and wasted a 25-point effort by Kyle Korver, who came up two points short of his season high.

CLIPPERS 126, SUNS 101

LOS ANGELES — DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Chris Paul added 14 points and 12 assists, and Los Angeles beat Phoenix for its franchise-record 50th win.

Willie Green and Caron Butler scored 15 points each, and Blake Griffin had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds to help the Clippers end a three-game skid with their second-highest scoring total of the season. They improved to 50-26 overall, bettering the single-season record for wins set in 1974-75 when the team was in Buffalo. They’re 29-9 at home.

Wesley Johnson scored 20 points and Jermaine O’Neal added 18 for the last-place Suns, who have lost seven straight overall.

SPURS 98, MAGIC 84

SAN ANTONIO — Danny Green scored 20 points and Gary Neal added 16 to pace depleted San Antonio to a victory over Orlando.

A 14-2 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Green midway through the fourth finally allowed the Spurs to take control. Before the run, San Antonio appeared sluggish and unable to pull away from the Magic, who trailed 74-70 with 10:37 remaining.

Already without Manu Ginobili, the Spurs rested Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, and used Tim Duncan for only 14 minutes.

Maurice Harkless scored 18 points for Orlando.

Nuggets 113, Jazz 96

SALT LAKE CITY — Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points, including nine straight in the fourth quarter, and Denver ended Utah’s winning streak at five.

Utah fell a half-game behind the idle Lakers for the eighth playoff spot in the West.

Kenneth Faried added 19 points for the Nuggets, who won three of four against Utah this season and are in third place in the West, two games ahead of the Clippers.

Gordon Hayward led the Jazz with 18 points, while Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap scored 16 apiece for Utah, which made 19 3-pointers in two previous games but was just 6 of 20 from beyond the arc in this one.

NETS 113, CAVALIERS 95

CLEVELAND — Deron Williams scored 24 points and Brooklyn ended an eight-game road trip by crushing Cleveland, giving the Nets a record for road wins in a season.

The Nets shot 83 percent (15 of 18) in the second quarter, when they outscored the Cavs 38-16 and opened a 30-point lead without much of a fight. Brooklyn’s 21 road wins are the most for the franchise, which moved to the New York City borough from New Jersey this season.

MarShon Brooks made his first 10 shots and finished with a career-high 27 points for the Nets, who haven’t played at home since March 17 because the circus is at Barclays Center.

Kyrie Irving scored 16 points for the Cavs, who have lost 10 straight.

GRIZZLIES 94, TRAIL BLAZERS 76

PORTLAND, Ore. — Mike Conley scored 20 points and Memphis set a franchise record for wins in a season with a victory over Portland.

With four straight wins, the Grizzlies improved to 51-24, surpassing their 50-win season in 2003-04. The Grizzlies have already clinched a spot in the playoffs and are jockeying for home-court advantage in the first round.

Former Blazer Zach Randolph, who played his first six seasons in Portland from 2001-07, added 17 points and eight rebounds for Memphis.

Damian Lillard and J.J. Hickson led the Blazers with 17 points apiece.

CELTICS 98, PISTONS 93

BOSTON — Jeff Green scored 34 points, including a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to snap Boston’s two-minute scoring drought, and the Celtics clinched a playoff berth by beating Detroit.

Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass scored 17 points apiece for the Celtics, who had lost two in a row and seven of their previous nine. But the victory, coupled with Philadelphia’s 88-83 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, left Boston 8½ games ahead of the 76ers with eight to play.

It’s the sixth consecutive season Boston has reached the playoffs since the New Big Three was assembled in the summer of 2007.

Greg Monroe had 24 points and 17 rebounds and Rodney Stuckey scored 22 for the Pistons.

WARRIORS 98, HORNETS 88

OAKLAND, Calif. — David Lee had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Stephen Curry added 20 points and nine assists, and Golden State shook off a slow start to ease past New Orleans.

Reserve Jarrett Jack finished with 19 points and eight assists against his former team to keep the Warriors in sixth place in the West. Golden State remains one game ahead of Houston, which won 112-102 at Sacramento. The Rockets own the tiebreaker after going 3-1 in the season series.

Eric Gordon scored 21 points and Robin Lopez had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Hornets, who were swept 4-0 by the Warriors this season. New Orleans led by 11 points in the second quarter before the Warriors surged ahead for good.

ROCKETS 112, KINGS 102

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Chandler Parsons scored 29 points and James Harden added 21 to lead Houston to a win over Sacramento.

Parsons and Harden, the team’s two leading scorers, returned to the lineup to help the Rockets win their third straight and eighth in 11 games. Parsons, who made 12 of 18 shots, had missed the previous game with food poisoning, while Harden had been nursing a foot injury.

Omer Asik had 19 points and 10 rebounds, Jeremy Lin had 15 points and 10 assists for Houston, which sits in seventh place in the West.

Tyreke Evans scored 22 points and Marcus Thornton had 21 for the Kings.

TIMBERWOLVES 107, BUCKS 98

MILWAUKEE — Nikola Pekovic scored 27 points and Ricky Rubio added 18 points, 12 assists and eight steals to lead Minnesota past Milwaukee.

Pekovic made 11 of 14 shots from the field and also had eight rebounds. Rubio connected on five of his six attempts from 3-point range for the Timberwolves, who went 8-of-13 from beyond the arc as a team and led most of the game.

Ersan Ilyasova had 29 points and 12 rebounds, Monta Ellis scored 18 points and Mike Dunleavy added 15 for Milwaukee, which holds a six-game lead on Philadelphia for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

BOBCATS 88, 76ERS 83

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Gerald Henderson scored 24 points, Kemba Walker had 17 points, 10 assists and five steals, and Charlotte snapped Philadelphia’s three-game winning streak.

Henderson had a crucial steal late in the game and scored four points in the final minute to help the Bobcats end a three-game skid. Josh McRoberts added 12 points and 16 rebounds for Charlotte.

Damien Wilkins had 20 points and nine rebounds for the 76ers, who were dealt a big blow to their already thin playoff hopes. Philadelphia came in six games behind Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with nine games left. Jrue Holliday had a miserable shooting night for the Sixers, going 2 of 24 from the field and finishing with five points.

RAPTORS 88, WIZARDS 78

TORONTO — Jonas Valanciunas scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Toronto over Washington.

Valanciunas went 16 of 18 at the free throw line and DeMar DeRozan had 25 points for Toronto, which snapped a two-game skid after being eliminated from the playoff chase.

John Wall had 20 points for the short-handed Wizards (28-47), who announced before the game that rookie standout Bradley Beal will miss the remainder of the season with a right leg injury.

The Raptors are second in the NBA in free throw shooting percentage since the All-Star break at 81 percent. They hit 75 percent (27 of 36) against the Wizards.

 

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