LA Clippers beat Sacramento Kings for third win a row

first_imgSACRAMENTO >> For six games in December, the Clippers were in freefall.Blake Griffin went under the knife. Chris Paul nursed a hamstring.The pieces that remained of what had been the NBA’s best team only weeks earlier could not compensate.“I think we lost our will a little bit,” coach Doc Rivers said. The Clippers stumbled out of the gates, falling behind by 14 points in the first quarterHad they actually learned anything from their previous two wins against Phoenix and Memphis?The night turned with an explosive second quarter in which the Clippers outscored the Kings 34-12. The Clippers failed to preserve that lead, however, allowing Sacramento to make 12 of 19 shots in the third period and tie the game at 73 on a 3-pointer by Cousins with 1:34 left in the period.The Clippers never surrendered the lead in the second half, even as the Kings kept creeping within range.The Clippers still have not found a way to neutralize Cousins. The enigmatic All-Star finished 25 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists while Collison, a one-time Clipper, added 20 points.Back on the winning end of things, the Clippers have addressed some of their most pressing issues, but another of their bugaboos remains.Two nights after Doc Rivers vowed to cut back on his technical fouls and asked his team to follow his lead, the Clippers were still plenty volatile against the Kings.With 4:23 remaining in the third quarter, Jordan was called for a technical foul for arguing that he was fouled after a basket. It was Jordan’s ninth “T” of the season.“We do have a shorter leash at times and we’ve earned it,” Rivers said. “I don’t buy into the philosophy ‘They’re picking on me.’ I buy into the philosophy the reason they’re picking on you is because you’re doing something.”Jordan was alone with the second most technical fouls in the league — for almost two full minutes.Then with 3:39 left in the period, Cousins argued that he had not fouled Redick on a 3-pointer and was called for his ninth technical foul.In a game featuring two sides so prone to agitation, it came as little surprise that emotions flared. Technical foul ultimatums or not.“I think both teams are emotional,” Rivers said. “You know, it’s good to play with emotion, I think it’s important to have it but you just can’t take it to a line where you’re affecting your play or your team’s play.” On Friday, they simply found a way.With Paul in the lineup for only the second time since Dec. 22, the Clippers overcame an early deficit and held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 for their third straight victory.Paul finished with a game-high 12 assists, while adding 14 points in 31 minutes. With Paul once again behind the wheel for the Clippers (25-14), Austin Rivers (24 points), J.J. Redick (19 points) and DeAndre Jordan (20 points on 9-of-10 shooting) carried the load offensively.Paul’s biggest contribution may have come on the defensive end.Moments after losing the ball out of bounds with the Clippers nursing a 100-98 lead in the final minute, Paul came up with a steal of DeMarcus Cousins. He was intentionally fouled and buried two of the six free throws he made in the final minute to ice the win.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img