LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Clippers had been talking in practice the last couple days about turning up their intensity.
DeAndre Jordan clearly got the message, slamming home a monster dunk in the second quarter of a 129-97 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night that had jaws dropping.
“That was the best dunk of the year and the best I’ve seen in person,” said no less an expert than Blake Griffin, who led seven players in double figures with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 21 minutes after early foul trouble.
The Clippers led by 26 points in the first half, building it with a 28-12 run that included two noteworthy dunks from the 6-foot-11 Jordan. The first one off Chris Paul’s alley-oop left Brandon Knight — who is 8 inches shorter — flat on his back with a foul.
“Usually I get that dunk and nobody is right there,” Jordan said. “This is the first time somebody tried to block it.”
Jonas Jerebko said Jordan “made a hell of a play. You know Brandon did what he could, but when you’ve got a player like that and he gets an opportunity, as athletic as he is, it was an amazing play by him. Props to him for making the play.”
Jordan’s move riled up his teammates, including Griffin, who was on the bench at the time.
“That was the fastest I’ve ever seen Caron (Butler) run to give me a chest bump, so it must have been good, and Ronny (Turiaf) was dancing,” Jordan said.
Paul engineered the whole thing, explaining that he and Jordan had been trying to execute the play for the previous three or four possessions.
“That was pretty crazy,” said Paul, who had 20 points and 14 assists in the Clippers’ 10th win in 13 games. He joked that Jordan’s dunk “was almost as good as the one I did in practice the other day.”
Griffin interjected, “We lowered the goals like 6 feet and let the little guys go crazy.”
The dunk quickly made Jordan a trending topic on Twitter.
“That’s cool,” he said. “Hopefully I can get my followers up.”
Butler added 15 points before leaving in the third quarter with a left elbow contusion. Coach Vinny Del Negro said an X-ray was negative, and Butler will have a MRI on Monday. Matt Barnes added 16 points, Jordan finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, Willie Green had 11 points and Chauncey Billups 10 points.
The Clippers set season highs for points scored and shooting percentage (62) while leading the entire game. Their old high of 125 points came in a win over the Lakers last month.
They moved into the third spot in the West standings, a game ahead of idle Memphis, which comes to town on Wednesday.
“We got to keep building,” Paul said. “The last 10 games is when you really start jockeying for position. Obviously, you want home court as much as possible. For us the bigger thing is making sure we’re playing the right way. We’ve been trying to pick our energy level up. That’s what we did from jump ball. At times, people have a tendency to be cool and try to relax and that doesn’t really work for us.”
Jose Calderon was one of five Pistons in double figures with 18 points as they lost their fifth in a row overall, fourth straight to the Clippers, and fell to 0-11 on the road against Western Conference opponents.
“We should be able to play better, it doesn’t matter what our position is in the standings or if we’re playing a good or bad team,” he said.
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank missed his third straight game because of a family matter. Assistant Brian Hill, who is running the team, said he doesn’t expect Frank back for the remainder of the four-game trip.
“This has nothing to do with Coach Hill,” Greg Monroe said. “There was no effort from us.”
The Clippers dominated the paint, 56-28, and in fast-break points, 22-10, while improving to 25-7 at home.
Paul picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter and sat down to watch the second unit finish off the game.
Los Angeles opened the third period on a 12-1 run that increased its lead to 82-55. Griffin scored seven points, highlighted by his dunk off Paul’s alley-oop, Billups hit a 3-pointer and Butler scored on a driving dunk. The quarter ended with the Clippers outscoring Detroit 11-5 to take a 98-70 lead into the fourth quarter. Paul scored their final six points after setting up Jordan for another thunderous dunk.
The Clippers led 70-52 at halftime, getting six 3-pointers in the second quarter to produce their highest-scoring half this season. Barnes hit their first three long-range baskets in a row, then Green, Butler and Paul chipped in.
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