CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Chris Paul had 19 points and 10 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Charlotte Bobcats 100-94 Wednesday night for their eighth straight win.
Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes also scored 19 points for the Clippers, who maintained sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. The win streak is their longest since an eight-game run during the 1991-92 season.
Byron Mullens had 19 points and eight rebounds and Kemba Walker chipped in with 17 points to lead the stumbling Bobcats, who have lost nine straight since starting the season 7-5.
The Bobcats trailed 78-71 entering the fourth quarter and got as close as three before Barnes scored on a fast break dunk off an alley-oop pass from Jamal Crawford. Barnes followed up by knocking down a 3-pointer from the corner on the next possession to push the lead back to eight.
Charlotte could never make another serious run at the lead, shooting just 32 percent from the field in the fourth quarter.
Paul struggled from the field hitting just 5 of 13 shots, but had a big 3 in the fourth to essentially put the game away.
Griffin had some magnificent dunks early on, including a baseline move to get by Bismack Biyombo before curling up on the other side of the rim and slamming it home hard.
Griffin also did it on the defensive end.
When Byron Mullens tried to dunk over Griffin, the Clippers’ star deflected the ball and it got wedged between rim and the backboard resulting in a jump ball at midcourt.
With his former coach at Kentucky, John Calipari, sitting courtside, rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looked sharp in the early going and finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Bobcats.
Kidd-Gilchrist attacked the rim strong, but his awkward jump shot continues to be an issue that will need to be addressed.
The Clippers took a 49-44 lead at the break with 34 points coming inside the paint and 10 of those off fast breaks. The Bobcats, meanwhile, didn’t score at all in transition in the first half.
Things began to get physical near the end of the first half.
At one point Walker and Griffin went diving for a loose ball near midcourt. Both grabbed on to the ball and as Griffin tried to wrestle it away from the much smaller Walker, Charlotte’s point guard got tossed on to his head.
A short while later Mullens was involved in a collision near half court while diving to make a play at the end of the first half and was slow to get up.
And then later in the third quarter Lamar Odom went down to the floor in a heap after falling for a pump fake by Brendan Haywood and had to leave the game.
NOTES: North Carolina Tar Heels football coach Larry Fedora was attended the game. … Walker came in averaging 22 points in his last five games.