Clippers work for win over injury-weakened Nets

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Despite playing without four of their big guns, the Brooklyn Nets almost dealt the Los Angeles Clippers an embarrassing loss. In the end, though, the Clippers hit some critical shots to slip past the injury-depleted Nets.

"I'll call it a win at the end of the day," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "We obviously didn't play great, but I was happy our guys hung in there."

Forward Blake Griffin had 30 points and 12 rebounds and J.J. Redick added 26 points as the Clippers pulled out a 110-103 victory on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 19,349 at Staples Center.

Center DeAndre Jordan had 16 rebounds, five blocks and nine points for the Clippers (7-3), who used a late third-quarter spurt and turned back several runs by the Nets (3-6) in the fourth quarter to win their fourth in a row and stay unbeaten at home at 5-0.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul added 12 points and 13 assists. Guard Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 13 points.

The Nets played without point guard Deron Williams, forward Paul Pierce, forward Kevin Garnett and center Brook Lopez, who all suffered injuries in Friday night's overtime win at Phoenix.

Williams, Garnett and Lopez suffered ankle injuries, and Pierce was hampered by a groin. Garnett and Pierce were scheduled to face Rivers for the first time since the trio departed the Boston Celtics. But it didn't happen.

"It still would have been nice to play against them," Rivers said. "I was not looking forward to it but looking forward to it, if you know what I mean. The only guy I could trash talk out there was Jason Terry. And that was no fun."

Guard Joe Johnson was the Nets' lone starter to play. Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd paired him with forwards Alan Anderson and Reggie Evans, center Andray Blatche and point guard Shaun Livingston.

"I can't really say it was one of those things that it kind of took us by surprise," said Griffin, referring to his team's inability to adjust to the Nets' role players despite knowing Brooklyn would be without its key performers. "I know I was well aware and everybody else was well aware. We just didn't do well. Obviously, we'll take the win, but we've got to do better.

"Not putting those guys down, but we had all our starters and they didn't."

Along with some contributions from their bench and 12 Clippers turnovers, the Nets dictated for much of the first half. Brooklyn took a 54-44 lead after a Terry free throw with 2:29 left in the second quarter. But Griffin, who scored 18 of his points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field in the first half, sparked a 10-1 run in the final two minutes of the half, cutting the gap to 55-54 at intermission.

Brooklyn opened the third quarter with a 10-0 run after a bucket in the lane by Livingston, a former Clipper, with 8:43 left. The Clippers, though, rallied again as Griffin's three-point play capped a 13-2 spurt to tie the score at 67 with 3:41 remaining.

Redick's 3-pointer with about three minutes left in the third gave Los Angeles 70-67 lead and it never trailed again.

Brooklyn closed to 93-92 on a basket inside by Johnson with 4:12 remaining, but Los Angeles clinched the win with late clutch buckets by Paul, Redick and Griffin.

The Nets got within three points twice in the final minute but no closer.

"It was definitely a winnable game," Johnson said. "We had the game right where we wanted to."

Blatche and reserve forward Mason Plumlee scored 19 points apiece for Brooklyn. Anderson finished with 15 points, and Johnson and guard Tyshawn Taylor each had 13. Livingston scored 11.

NOTES: Clippers coach Doc Rivers confirmed before Saturday's game the club met with free agent F Lamar Odom on Friday. Although Rivers said no deal with Odom was imminent, it's clear he and the club are exploring one. "I've always had an interest in him," Rivers said of Odom, who averaged 4 points and 5.9 rebounds with the Clippers last season. "I think I've stated that from day one. I've always liked him. (The discussion) didn't go much further than that. Good conversation. I really wanted to see him and see how he was doing. He looked really good." ... Rivers said he continues to have a close relationship with PF Kevin Garnett and SF Paul Pierce. "It hasn't changed much. We talk to each other a lot. Text a lot. Sometimes, I think we contact each other more," Rivers said.
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