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Clippers overcome third-quarter scare to defeat Wizards, 122-101

No. 1 draft picks Blake Griffin of L.A. and John Wall of Washington meet in the NBA for the first time as the Clippers blow out the hapless Wizards.

March 13, 2011|By Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times
  • Blake Griffin takes a shot between Washington's JaVale McGee and Yi Jianlian during the Clippers' 122-101 victory over the Wizards on Saturday. Griffin finished with 26 points.
Blake Griffin takes a shot between Washington's JaVale McGee and… (Harry E. Walker / MCT )

Reporting from Washington — Fifteen games remaining and it is not too early to pen a significant disclaimer about the Clippers' wildly uneven season.

Bad in the third quarter.

Good work in the first half has had an uncanny way of evaporating — fast — in the third quarter, and it started happening again for the second time in two nights on this five-game trip.

They blew a 20-point lead and lost to the New Jersey Nets in overtime Friday night.

Luckily for the Clippers, the woeful 16-win Wizards happened to be Saturday night's host, and the Clippers self-corrected after letting Washington pull within three points early in the third quarter. They went on to beat the Wizards, 122-101, at Verizon Center behind a combined 48-point effort from Blake Griffin and Mo Williams.

"Blake got us going," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We wanted to get the ball inside and get to the free-throw line and control the game early. He got us off to a great start. DeAndre [Jordan] was all over the place, rebounding the basketball and controlling the paint for us."

Said Griffin: "We definitely didn't want to give up the lead that we had like last night. I thought we did a good job of coming down and settling down, limiting their easy looks and hitting shots at the other end."

Griffin had 26 points in the first half, went scoreless in the second and added five rebounds and sat out the fourth quarter. It was his third straight non-double-double effort. Williams, who went three of 17 from the field and had nine points at New Jersey, was sharp early and had nine points against the Wizards by the second quarter.

Williams and Griffin were accompanied by a sensational two-way effort from center DeAndre Jordan, who had 10 points and 17 rebounds, 12 of them defensive rebounds.

This means the Clippers (26-41) are assured of finishing this road adventure with a winning record, and it marks the first time they have had the winning edge on a trip of five or more games since February 2006.

Saturday featured the first pro meeting between the most recent No. 1 draft choice, Wizards point guard John Wall, and Griffin, who was the top pick in the 2009 draft.

There were other fascinating subplots: Kentucky teammates Wall and Clippers rookie point guard Eric Bledsoe meeting for the first time in the pros too. Bledsoe had 23 points, and Wall finished with 25.

Wall's first run-in with Griffin was like running into a brick wall, as Griffin expertly timed his jump and blocked Wall's shot, sending him clattering hard to the floor late in the second quarter.

Then there were the two slam dunk contestants from the All-Star weekend: Griffin, the winner, and the Wizards' JaVale McGee. Less than a minute after Griffin denied Wall, Wall threw a half-court alley-oop, and McGee dunked over Griffin.

Griffin did not play in the fourth quarter, getting some much-needed rest in what turned into a blowout. "I was talking to Mo Williams about it, and Randy [Foye], as we were sitting on the bench. It was nice," Griffin said. "I think that was the first time this year we got to sit most of the second half."

However, this brought forth something you rarely hear from a visiting crowd: "We want Blake. We want Blake."

Del Negro, unlike Gregg Popovich at the All-Star game, did not put Griffin back in.

After all, it is the regular season.

Etc.

Del Negro had a brief chat on the phone with guard Eric Gordon, who is out with an injured right wrist. Gordon could return to the lineup next week.

"I spoke to him yesterday," Del Negro said Saturday. "He said he is feeling better. [I] think he is starting to dribble and shoot now. I'll get a report probably after the game or tomorrow and talk to him again and see where he's at."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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