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Clippers blow 20-point first-half lead in overtime loss to New Jersey

Clippers rookie Blake Griffin had a chance to win the game in the final moments of the fourth quarter but missed a free throw. In the resulting overtime, the Clippers made just one of seven field goals.

March 11, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Clippers point guard Mo Williams tries to cut off a drive by Nets point guard Jordan Farmar in the first quarter Friday night.
Clippers point guard Mo Williams tries to cut off a drive by Nets point guard… (Bill Kostroun / Associated…)

Reporting from Newark, N.J. — Self-imposed blame was flying through the Clippers locker room after they blew a 20-point lead, missed a chance to win the game with 1.2 seconds remaining in regulation and then made just one of seven shots from the field in overtime.

Point guard Mo Williams used words to point the finger at himself after the Nets beat the Clippers, 102-98, on Friday night at Prudential Center, handing them their first loss in five games.

Blake Griffin used actions to do the same, morosely hunched in his stall with his feet in ice, cutting a downcast figure. Teammate Chris Kaman walked past, offering words of encouragement on the way out the door.

Griffin tied the score with his first free throw with 1.2 seconds left and missed the second, banging it off the rim. These sorts of things haven't happened much to Griffin in his sensational rookie season, and the air seemed to go out of him and his teammates in overtime.

"He's got a lot of games to play in his career," the Clippers' Ryan Gomes said of Griffin. "He's going to be the guy. He scored the possession before that and got fouled the last possession. He tied the game — it's not like he missed both of them — and gave us a chance to go into overtime. It was right there. Wasn't like it was an air ball.

"Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James], they miss game-winners. They miss free throws. The best free-throw shooters in the world, those guys miss. That's how you've got to look at it."

The Clippers never led in the extra session as New Jersey scored the first four points and Griffin was called for two offensive fouls on Kris Humphries. It was the Nets' largest comeback of the season, and for the Clippers (25-41), it was their fourth loss in four overtime games this season.

"This team is obviously young," Williams said. "We're learning how to win, and tonight guys are mad, and it's good. You're supposed to be mad about a loss. I put the blame of this game on myself."

Williams, who tied a season high with 28 points in the win at Boston on Wednesday, had nine points and suffered through a miserable night from the field, going three for 17.

Griffin and Chris Kaman led the Clippers with 23 points each, with Kaman coming off the bench and adding 10 rebounds. Randy Foye was the only other Clipper in double figures, finishing with 19 points and seven assists. Williams missed all five of his three-point attempts.

Still the Clippers were able to offset some problems with a quick, high-energy start, and they seemed poised to blow out the Nets, building a 20-point lead in the first half. Griffin and DeAndre Jordan looked as though they were having their own dunk contest, trading blow for blow early on.

Then the one-on-one battle between Griffin and the Nets' Humphries intensified. "You can't call it tough when you just do a lot of the stupid stuff," Griffin said. "It's not tough." That presumably would have been the technical Humphries received in the first half when he elbowed Griffin in the face.

Humphries had a career-high 20 rebounds, adding 19 points, and former Laker Jordan Farmar got hot in the second half after going scoreless in the first, finishing with 24 points. Brook Lopez added 24 points and seven rebounds for the Nets.

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