NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Blake Griffin had 27 points and 12 rebounds, and made a crushing 3-pointer with 43 seconds left, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 112-103 victory over New Orleans on Sunday in the Pelicans’ first game since a season-ending injury to All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.
Lou Williams added 22 points, and DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 19 rebounds for the Clippers, who erased a 21-point, first-half deficit and snapped New Orleans’ four-game winning streak.
Anthony Davis had 25 points and 17 rebounds for the Pelicans. They’d won seven of eight coming in, but were playing for the first time all season without Cousins, who averaged 25.2 points and 13.9 rebounds before tearing his Achilles tendon in the final seconds of a victory over Houston on Friday night.
Davis also had a scary moment late in the game when he tried to beat Jordan off the dribble and appeared to slip on a slick spot near the edge of the paint and went down with his legs splayed. He remained in the game, but seemed to be trying to stretch out the upper part of his leg.
The play resulted in a turnover with the Pelicans trailing 105-102, and Griffin then sank his decisive 3 on Los Angeles’ next trip down the court.
Jrue Holiday added 20 points and E’Twaun Moore 18 for New Orleans, which led by 11 at halftime but fell behind for good when it was outscored by 14 points in the third quarter.
The Clippers took their first lead of the game when Williams hit a 20-foot jumper and left-wing 3 in succession to make it 72-70 with 2:53 left in the third period. The Pelicans briefly regained a 75-74 lead on Jameer Nelson’s 3 before falling behind for good on Griffin’s layup as he was fouled.
Without Cousins on the court, New Orleans relied more on a smaller lineup and attempted 35 3s, but hit only nine. The Pelicans also made only 2 of 19 3s attempted in the second half.
New Orleans scored the first eight points of the game, starting with Davis’ alley-oop dunk, and led the entire first half. The Pelicans built their first double-digit lead when DeAndre Liggins stole Milos Teodosic’s pass and broke in for a layup to make it 36-26.
Despite Davis scoring only six points in the first half, the Pelicans were able to open up a 56-35 lead on Cunningham’s 3.
Needing to compensate for the loss of Cousins’ scoring, New Orleans received considerable help from its bench in the first half, when reserves combined to hit eight of 11 shots for 18 points, led by Ian Clark’s nine points.
Clark and Darius Miller each hit 3s, Clark added a layup and reserve center Omer Asik scored twice inside during a 20-7 Pelicans run in the second quarter.
The Clippers closed the gap late in the half, however, with a 16-6 run that began with Williams’ 3, included Jordan’s dunk of Griffin’s alley-oop lob and ended with Griffin’s 3, making it 62-51 at halftime.
Clippers: Williams has scored at least 20 points in each of his past 12 games in a reserve role. … Clippers reserves other than Williams combined to score 12 points. … Improved to 11-13 on the road.
Pelicans: Davis’ rebound total gave him a franchise all-time high of 3,857, eclipsing David West’s mark of 3,853. … The Pelicans tied their largest lost lead of the season, having also lost to Golden State on Dec. 4 after leading by 21. … Asik, who was averaging 7.4 minutes per game, played eight minutes in Cousins’ absence and had four points and three rebounds.
Clippers: Host Portland on Tuesday night.
Pelicans: Host Sacramento on Tuesday night.
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