CHRIS Paul came up clutch as the Los Angeles Clippers averted a late collapse to hold off the Sacramento Kings and come out with a 121-115 win at the Golden 1 Center on Friday (Saturday, Manila time)
The Clippers waxed hot early and closed the first quarter with a 21-6 run to lead 41-24 after 12 minutes. JJ Redick also knocked down all six of his shots from beyond the arc in the first half as LA led by as much as 26. DeMarcus Cousins gave the home crowd something to cheer about with a halfcourt heave to end the half at 73-51.
Paul was held scoreless but ran the Clippers offense to perfection, with a red hot 70.3 percent clip from the field, and 76.9 percent shooting from deep in the first half.
Cousins started strong after the break, scoring 10 points in the third, to trim the deficit to 10 but Paul steadied the Clippers to bring the lead back to 19 entering the fourth. Sacramento unleashed an 18-4 run in the quarter until Paul stopped the bleeding with a three with over four minutes left, 113-104.
A 10-4 rally, capped by a left corner three by Ty Lawson, brought the Kings within three approaching the two-minute mark, 117-114, but Paul again stepped up late to help regain control. He lobbed a pass to a DeAndre Jordan slam, found a driving Griffin who split his charities, then knocked down a pair of free throws and had a crucial steal to keep the Kings at bay.
Griffin had 29 points for the league-leading Clippers, who now stand at 11-2 and unbeaten on the road. Redick scored 21 of his 26 before halftime, while Jordan finished with a double-double of 16 markers and 12 boards. Paul was one assist shy from notching a triple-double with 11 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.
Cousins led all scorers with a season-high 38 points along with 13 rebounds and seven assists, but his all-around effort went for naught as the Kings suffered their fourth straight loss and fell to 4-9. Ty Lawson had 18 markers and eight assists, while Darren Collison and Matt Barnes added 16 and 15 points, respectively, off the bench.