Rivers wins 800th as Clippers drub Lakers
(TSX / STATS) -- LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers started strong and experienced some lulls again before holding off a late charge by the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
Doc Rivers won his 800th game as a coach and the Clippers defeated the Lakers 115-104 at Staples Center.
Griffin scored 36 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Clippers (47-31), who pulled within a game of the idle Utah Jazz for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.
Griffin topped 10,000 points for his career in the first quarter. Griffin, who now has 10,034 points, is the first player to achieve the feat in a Clippers' uniform and the second in the franchise. Randy Smith scored 10,467 as a member of the Buffalo Braves.
Chris Paul contributed 29 points and 12 assists and J.J. Redick added 19 points for the Clippers, who have beaten the Lakers 10 consecutive times on their home floor. DeAndre Jordan chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Rivers, though, wasn't happy with the overall performance by the Clippers, particularly the reserves, who allowed a 21-point lead entering the fourth quarter to dwindle to eight before the Clippers sealed the win.
"I loved the way we started the game," Rivers said. "I didn't like how -- this is the third game in a row with our bench, and they've been really good, but we have to figure that out."
Rivers became the 15th coach in NBA history to reach the 800-win plateau, but the main story again was the Clippers' inability to close out a lesser opponent until the game's final minutes.
"It's still something that needs to be worked out," said Griffin, who connected on 12 of 15 shots from the floor and 4 of 7 from 3-point range. "I thought at times we came out to start the game the right way and then we took our foot off the gas. I thought we let our offense dictate our defense, had some bad turnovers early in the first quarter and it got them going a little bit.
"I thought we came out well in the third quarter, but we just haven't put the lid on games very well."
Griffin said the Clippers must clean up their act before the postseason starts.
"You can't win games in the playoffs playing inconsistently, so it is concerning," Griffin said. "How much concern? I'm not really sure. I just know we can't do this in the playoffs and win games because every team that makes the playoffs is a good team and knows how to play and knows how to finish games. We have to do better."
David Nwaba scored 19 points to lead the Lakers (21-55), who lost their fourth in a row. Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, who missed the previous three games with right patellar tendinitis, scored 18 points, Thomas Robinson came off the bench to deliver 16 and nine rebounds and Julius Randle finished with 14 points.
"I try to bring energy off the bench," said Nwaba, who helped the Lakers' reserves outscore the Clippers' bench 55-13. "That's our job as the bench, to make something happen. Whether we are down or up, we just have to come in and create some sort of momentum for us."
Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell managed two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Russell missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
The Clippers rolled to a 17-0 lead in the opening quarter. However, the Lakers closed the gap and trailed 28-22 after one quarter. At halftime, the Clippers held a 55-50 edge.
"It was a good example of what's going to happen to us if we are not engaged in the fight to start," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "These are good teams we are playing against, so we can't afford to start without that edge on us."
In the third quarter, the Clippers blew the game open by outscoring the Lakers 38-22 for a 93-72 advantage heading into the final period. The Lakers cut the deficit to eight late in the fourth but got no closer.
NOTES: Clippers G Austin Rivers (left hamstring strain) likely won't play for the rest of the regular season and there is a "50-50" chance he would return for the playoffs, coach Doc Rivers said. Rivers sustained the injury in Tuesday's win over the Washington Wizards. ... The Lakers haven't won on the Clippers' floor since April 4, 2012, when they earned a 113-108 win behind 36 points from Andrew Bynum and 31 from Kobe Bryant. ... The Lakers play the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday at Staples Center. ... The Clippers are off until Wednesday when they host the Dallas Mavericks.
Updated April 1, 2017
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