The Los Angeles Clippers got their franchise-record 50th victory in their 4th 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 L.A. led all of the way in beating the last-place Phoenix Suns 126-101 as tempers flared in the fourth quarter.
”It’s big,” Jordan asserted about the landmark win, ”but we are looking at the bigger picture. This is one thing we will check off.”
Willie Green and Caron Butler scored 15 points each, and Blake Griffin had 9 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds to help the Clippers end a 3-game skid with their 2nd-highest scoring total of the season. They improved to 50-26 overall, improving 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 think more and we should,” coach Vinny Del Negro declared.
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 claimed.
Wesley Johnson scored 20 points and Jermaine O’Neal added 18 for the last-place Suns, who have lost 7 straight overall, 13 of their last 15, and 6 in a row on the road. Goran Dragic, who didn’t score his first basket until the start of the 3rd quarter, finished with 12.
”We didn’t contend while they were penetrating and scoring some easy baskets,” Dragic asserted. ”We’re not going to make the playoffs, so just try and compete until the end of the season.” Baseball odds
The Clippers pulled away in the 3rd, outscoring the Suns 38-20 to lead 95-70 going into the 4th. Jordan’s teammates set him up for 3 high-flying dunks – he had 8 total in the game – while Griffin and Paul got ones of their own in, too.
”It’s all energy and effort,” Del Negro expounded 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 Suns squad P.J. Tucker and O’Neal needed 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.