LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin had 23 points and 14 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the New Jersey Nets 101-91 on Monday without injured point guard Chris Paul after blowing an 18-point lead.
Trailing by 13 after a three-point play by Reggie Evans with 10 minutes remaining, the Nets tied it at 81 with a 15-2 run capped by Deron Williams’ 3-pointer with 6:46 to play. But the Clippers outscored them 20-10 the rest of the way, as Chauncey Billups scored nine of his 20 points in the final 4:23 — including a clinching 3-pointer with 1:09 left.
It was the third straight victory for the Clippers, who never trailed en route to their sixth win in seven games following a pair of ego-inflating wins against the Miami Heat and the Lakers.
All the starters scored in double figures, including Randy Foye, who made his second start of the season in Paul’s place and had 13 points and 10 assists.
Griffin was 9 for 15 from the field and missed eight of 13 free throws. He has had 53 games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since the start of last season, the most in the league during that stretch. Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Minnesota’s Kevin Love each had 51 entering Monday.
MarShon Brooks led New Jersey with 19 points and eight rebounds. Williams was coming off an emotional homecoming against his former team, Utah in which he shot only 3 for 15 in a 107-94 loss. He finished with 14 points and six assists.
Paul was sidelined with a left hamstring strain that occurred during the fourth quarter against the Lakers on Saturday.
Clippers backup point guard Mo Williams missed his second straight game because of a sore right foot and reserve forward Brian Cook did not dress because of a sprained left ankle. Eric Bledsoe, recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee, is still 2-3 weeks away.
Reserve guard Courtney Fortson made his NBA debut, playing nine scoreless minutes with two assists after signing with the Clippers earlier in the day. The 5-foot-11 guard, who was with the club during their brief training camp, averaged 15.9 points and 5.2 assists in 17 games this season with the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA’s D-League.
Paul, in his seventh NBA season, is averaging 18.6 points and 9.9 assists over his career. Only three players in league history finished their careers averaging at least 18 points and eight assists — Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas.
Nets guard Anthony Morrow, who scored a career-high 37 points against the Clippers on Nov. 15, 2008 while playing for the Warriors in his first NBA start, didn’t get his first points Monday until he made two of three free throws after getting fouled by Ryan Gomes on a 3-point shot with 1 1-2 minutes left in the third quarter.
NOTES: Paul missed his first game as a Clipper on the 22nd anniversary of Ron Harper’s season-ending knee injury against the then-Charlotte Hornets at the L.A. Sports Arena. … Foye was born in Newark and played his high school ball there. … Nets F DeShawn Stevenson was charged with a flagrant 1 foul for pushing Griffin from behind as he went up for an alley-oop pass by Foye with 3:22 left in the second quarter and the Nets trailing 44-35. … The Nets are exactly 100 games under .500 (39-139) since the beginning of the 2009-10 season, when they got off to an NBA record-worst 0-18 start. … Nets coach Avery Johnson, who helped the San Antonio Spurs capture an NBA title in 1998-99, is one of seven current coaches in the league who won championship rings as players. The others are Charlotte’s Paul Silas (Boston and Seattle), Memphis’ Lionel Hollins (Portland), Houston’s Kevin McHale (Boston), Cleveland’s Byron Scott (Lakers), Dallas’ Rick Carlisle (Boston) and Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks (Houston).