Clippers close strong in 113-99 win over Wizards
LOS ANGELES (AP) With the postseason on the horizon, the Los Angeles Clippers are fine-tuning a few things, with an emphasis on defense. The way they blanketed the Washington Wizards' shooters down the stretch was a good example of how far they've come in that regard.
Chris Paul had 30 points and 15 assists, DeAndre Jordan grabbed 23 rebounds along with his 10 points, and the Clippers held the Wizards to two field goals over the final 6:54 to stave off a fourth-quarter rally and pull out a 113-99 victory Friday night.
''I feel like we can improve our defense,'' Jordan said. ''Nobody can play a perfect game, but I just want us to be able to play a great defensive game for most of the 48 minutes. That's what the great teams do. That's what the championship teams do. So we're on our way and we're making strides, but we have to sustain that for an entire game.''
In a matchup of teams that came in second and third in the NBA in field goal percentage, the Clippers shot 52.3 percent and held the Wizards to 43 percent. J.J. Redick scored 26 points and Blake Griffin had 22, helping to end the Wizards' five-game winning streak.
''That's what we need from J.J.,'' Jordan said. ''It's not like we're surprised that he is capable of doing that because he works on it. That's the type of player he is.
''He doesn't get tired - ever. I would definitely get tired running off nine different screens and then come around to shoot a jump shot. He's been great for us during this long stretch, and it definitely opens the floor for different guys. We had 33 assists, so the ball was definitely popping around. Everybody got a lot of shots and we were knocking them down.''
John Wall led Washington with 19 points and 10 assists. Bradley Beal, whose 29 points against the Clippers in Washington's 104-96 home victory on Dec. 12 helped end Los Angeles' nine-game winning streak, had 18 points in the rematch.
Paul Pierce finished with just six points in 31 minutes on 2-for-11 shooting, missing eight in a row during one stretch after opening the scoring with a 3-pointer.
''We didn't play our defense,'' Wall said. ''We put up the points, but it was hard to overcome the 11 3s we allowed. We've got to give them credit. J.J. made some shots and got his teammates some good looks. He also kept knocking down the mid-range shots, and we missed some easy shots. It's tough to win when you miss easy shots against a team with Blake, who can easily push the pace upcourt.''
The Wizards roughed up Griffin a couple of times in the third quarter. Pierce wrapped his arm around Griffin's throat from behind on a fast-break layup attempt with 6:25 left in the third quarter and the Wizards trailing 76-69, earning a flagrant-1 foul. Just 55 seconds later, Nene also received a flagrant 1 after hip-checking Griffin as he drove the lane to attempt a dunk.
Wall drew some oohs and aahs - and a few gasps - from the sellout crowd when he made a driving, 360-degree spin move past Matt Barnes in the lane for a layup that reduced the Clippers' lead to 81-71 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
Griffin went to the bench 44 seconds later after picking up his fourth foul. He returned with 8:53 left in the game after the Wizards trimmed a 13-point deficit to 94-88 with an 11-4 run fueled by Wall's seven points and capped by Kevin Seraphin's layup off an alley-oop lob from Wall.
The Clippers were just fine after that, closing it out with a 19-11 run that included eight points by Paul.
Wizards: Pierce came in averaging 20.8 points in his 26 career games against the Clippers - one of 25 teams he has a scoring average of 20 points or better against. ... Washington has lost 11 of its last 13 meetings with the Clippers.
Clippers: Redick made four 3-pointers, increasing his season total to 162 and eclipsing Jamal Crawford's 2013-14 franchise record of 161 - on Crawford's 35th birthday, no less. ... This was Jordan's 10th 20-rebound game this season. He had at least 14 for the 18th straight game, the NBA's longest such streak since Dennis Rodman's 24-game run in 1992-93 with Detroit. ... Reserve forward Glen ''Big Baby'' Davis is out with a stomach illness. ... The Clippers are 7-1 in matchups between Paul and Wall. ... F Jordan Hamilton was signed for the rest of the season after his second 10-day contract expired. ''I think he can play,'' coach Doc Rivers said of the four-year veteran.
Wizards: At Sacramento on Sunday.
Clippers: Host New Orleans on Sunday.