Blake Griffin scores 37 points, Clippers beat Kings 114-109

first_imgThe Golden State Warriors don’t like the Clippers. Neither do the Dallas Mavericks. Now count the Sacramento Kings among those teams the Clippers seem to rub the wrong way.At least in the mind of their center, DeMarcus Cousins, who after the Clippers beat the Kings on Wednesday in a season opener in Sacramento told reporters, “I hate ‘em. Honestly, I do. I hate ‘em.”Clippers forward Josh Smith doesn’t have a problem with that.“I feel like an opponent is not supposed to like another opponent, you know what I’m saying?” Smith said before the Clippers defeated the Kings 114-109 in a Saturday night rematch before 19,060 at Staples Center. “So I think we should come out and keep giving them reasons not to like us.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The Clippers are off to a 3-0 start, so they probably did just that. Blake Griffin again led the way with 37 points on 13-of-22 shooting. He also had nine rebounds, six assists and two steals.For a team with lofty expectations, Griffin agreed it was vital for the Clippers to get off to a good start.“It’s important,” he said. “We always kind of talk about those games you miss. Those games last year, if we had won one more game, it would have put us in second place (in the Western Conference) and that means homecourt through the first two rounds. Not to say that everything (wouldn’t) have gone the same way, but we would have been playing a Game 7 at home.”Griffin was speaking of the Western Conference semifinals. The Clippers blew Game 6 at home and lost Game 7 at Houston.Not that it should have been so difficult to dispatch the Kings in this one because Cousins — Sacramento’s best player — did not play in the second half because of a strained Achilles.center_img The Clippers trailed by as many as 12 points (39-27) with 8:15 left in the second quarter. They then outscored the Kings 32-16 to take a 59-55 lead at halftime. When the Clippers took an 80-68 lead in the third quarter, with Cousins out, it appeared a blowout might be in the offing.Not quite. Sacramento came back to take a 96-95 lead with 6:13 to play before the Clippers regrouped and took the win.J.J. Redick’s two free throws with 8.6 seconds to play sealed the Kings’ fate.Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who spent the day at the funeral of Flip Saunders — as did Sacramento coach George Karl — was asked if perhaps his team took its collective foot off the gas when it got the 12-point lead, knowing Cousins was out for the game.“I just didn’t think we played well,” he said. “Honestly, I thought the second unit played pretty badly all game. It’s amazing. It’s just going to take time (with the second unit). Last game, they were phenomenal. Tonight, they weren’t very good.“I thought the whole game lacked energy.”The bench scored just 15 points on 5-of-20 shooting.J.J. Redick contributed 23 points, Chris Paul had 17 points and 11 assists, and DeAndre Jordan scored 15 points, grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked seven shots. Jamal Crawford scored 10 points off the bench, and Lance Stephenson had seven points and four assists.Stephenson, a ball of fire on the court, got two of his points off a vicious 25-foot baseline drive and dunk. He then screamed his own approval.Redick agreed the Clippers were a bit flat, but he also made a good point.“There wasn’t a great cohesive energy to our team tonight,” Redick said. “Some guys certainly had good energy. You can’t really say no one did, or we wouldn’t have won the game.”Paul had five of the team’s 17 turnovers. He didn’t like that one bit.“I didn’t bring the energy I could have,” he said. “I think the toughest part of the night was some of those turnovers I had down the stretch. They were terrible.”Cousins finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in his half of play. Rajon Rondo led the Kings (1-2) with 21 points and Rudy Gay scored 20.Rondo was philosophical about the setback.“We stayed with it,” he said. “We fought, but it’s a loss. You have to learn from it, watch some film and continue to grow.” The Clippers shot 51.3 percent from the field, but just 23.5 percent (4 of 17) from 3-point range. The Kings shot 42.6 percent.last_img

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