Clippers appear to have righted the ship - Los Angeles Times

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Clippers appear to have righted the ship - Los Angeles Times
Mar 29th 2012, 06:11

That's three consecutive victories for the Clippers, three much-needed victories during this five-game homestand after a three-game losing streak that made things tense in these parts.

With four of five starters scoring in double figures, the Clippers pulled out a 103-86 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night at Staples Center and perhaps restored some order in the process.

"I'm proud of the guys for the way they've stuck together and battled this past week," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "That's what it's about. It's about fighting together. It's about handling the adversity that's thrown at you and showing your character and no compromising to it."

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 27 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and another assortment of highlight-reel dunks.

Chris Paul had 15 points, 15 assists and five rebounds.

DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and six rebounds but tweaked his right ankle and didn't play in the fourth quarter.

When the Clippers last played the Suns two weeks ago and lost, Los Angeles had a closed-door meeting that lasted just over an hour after that game.

It was a stinging loss for the Clippers because Suns starters Steve Nash and Grant Hill sat out the game to get rest and because the Clippers blew a 12-point lead in the fourth.

This time Nash played, but Hill sat out his second consecutive game with inflammation in his right knee.

And this time, the Clippers didn't blow a big fourth-quarter lead.

They did open a 13-point lead in the fourth and saw it sliced to 81-74.

But a 9-0 Clippers run gave them a 90-74 lead that forced Suns Coach Alvin Gentry to call a timeout with 4:32 left.

"I think we're doing a great job of not letting teams fight back in to it and making it hard on ourselves," Griffin said. "At least we have the past three games."

The highlight of the night was a fourth-quarter dunk by Griffin.

The Clippers ran a nice delayed pick-and-roll between Paul and Griffin.

Paul threw a bounce pass to Griffin, who threw down a one-handed dunk over Channing Frye.

That play had the crowd on its feet, and it brought a smile to the face of Griffin.

At halftime, with the Clippers holding a 43-41 lead, the frontcourt players had control of the game.

Griffin and Jordan combined for 23 first-half points for the Clippers.

Surprisingly, Jordan did his work from the free-throw line, making seven of eight in the first half for his 11 points.

Jordan began the game making only 50% of his free throws.

Suns center Marcin Gortat had 13 first-half points and five rebounds.

Suns power forward Frye had 10 first-half points on three-for-10 shooting, two for nine on three-pointers.

Gortat finished with 23 points and seven rebounds and Frye finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. Nash had 15 assists, but only one point.

It wasn't enough to stop the Clippers, now fourth in the Western Conference, from winning three in a row for the first time since they won four in a row Jan. 26-Feb. 1.

"It's that time the year," Del Negro said. "You have to win games. The race is so tight. You can play bad and win, you can play good and lose. You've just got to find ways to win basketball games."

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