LOS ANGELES (AP) — A game that appeared to be a laugher in the third quarter for the Los Angeles Clippers suddenly turned serious down the stretch.
J.J. Redick scored 23 points, Chris Paul had 20 points and eight assists, and the Clippers escaped Staples Center with a 99-92 victory on Tuesday night.READ MORE: COVID-19 Testing Demand Still Rising, Experts Predict Decline
The Clippers took their biggest lead, 63-41, on a 3-pointer by Paul with 10:04 left in the third quarter. Charlotte’s Gerald Henderson got a technical foul from referee Pat Fraher after getting called for an offensive foul with 5:42 left in the period and the Hornets down by 17, but they went on a 12-2 run over the final 3 minutes to get to 77-74.
“That was awful. That stretch should have been avoided,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I thought it started when we had the 18-point lead. Then we had four turnovers in a row, and the game changed at that moment. If it was a one-point game, we never would have played that way during that turnover-fest. That was the only disappointing part of the game for me.”
The Hornets, who had season lows of 66 points and 23 field goals Monday night in a 28-point loss at Utah, got as close as a single point five times in the fourth against the Clippers — the final time on Henderson’s 19-footer with 7:18 to play. But they couldn’t got over the hump.
“That was one of those silver-lining moments,” Rivers said. “We never let them take the lead. Every time we needed a stop, we got one. Defense on demand — that’s what it felt like tonight.”
Blake Griffin’s two free throws and short hook shot extended the margin to 91-85 with 4:56 remaining. DeAndre Jordan made three of six free throws over the final 4:20 after the Hornets started to intentionally send him to the foul line.
“He’s a bad free throw shooter,” Hornets point guard Mo Williams said of his former Clippers teammate. “It’s just one of those games where you play the percentages and hope for the best.”
Griffin had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who were coming off back-to-back losses to Dallas and Houston. Jordan finished with 12 points and 14 boards during a foul-plagued 33 minutes.READ MORE: NFL Announces All-Pro Rosters; Kupp, Donald, Ramsey Make First-Team
“We got a little complacent and started turning the ball over,” Paul said. “I had a couple of bad turnovers in that stretch and just stopped defending and they started making shots.”
Matt Barnes was scratched because of a sore right hamstring and Jamal Crawford missed his seventh straight game because of a bruised right calf that has put his postseason status in question. Hedo Turkoglu made his first start for the Clippers, getting six points in 21 minutes after 85 games as a reserve over two seasons with them.
Al Jefferson led Charlotte with 21 points and Williams had 18 along with eight assists.
“We had a chance at the end, but things didn’t workout for us,” Jefferson said. “I guarantee you that if we continue to play the way we played tonight, we’ll be OK.”
A victory would have pulled Charlotte into a four-way tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race with Boston Indiana and Miami — none of whom played on Tuesday. Instead, the Hornets are in 10th place and a game off the pace with 16 left on the schedule.
“It’s a focus of ours each and every game,” Williams said. “Every game is a must win, and every game we lose puts more pressure on us.”
Griffin, playing his second game after missing 15 because of a staph infection that required surgery on his right elbow, paced Los Angeles to a 59-41 halftime lead with 15 points.MORE NEWS: 'Our Hearts Are Heavy:' Sandra Shells, ER Nurse Attacked Near Union Station, Dies From Injuries On Sunday
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)