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Clippers hold on to beat Raptors, 94-90

Blake Griffin finishes with 22 points -- including eight in the fourth quarter -- and 16 rebounds to lift Clippers to victory.

March 26, 2011|By Lisa Dillman
  • Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, left, goes in for a layup as Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless defends during the Clippers' 94-90 victory Saturday at Staples Center.
Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe, left, goes in for a layup as Toronto guard Jerryd… (Kelvin Kuo / U.S. Presswire )

Despite a lack of draft jockeying and accompanying intrigue, there is no shortage of story lines the final three-plus weeks of the season for the Clippers. After Saturday night's 94-90 victory against the Toronto Raptors at Staples Center, the Clippers tied last season's win total.

The Clippers (29-45) rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Toronto, fueled by a determined late effort from Blake Griffin in the midst of a 17-3 run.

Eight of Griffin's 22 points came in the fourth quarter, and he had 16 rebounds for his 56th double-double, a Clippers record. And the Clippers had three other players in double figures, including Randy Foye's 14 points off the bench.

The Clippers have three home games remaining and five on the road.

"Probably more than ever before this is an important final 10 games [actually eight] based that we traded our franchise point guard for a new franchise point guard," said Neil Olshey, the Clippers vice president of basketball operations. "So we changed the roster composition and a little bit the style of play.

"We went with a pass first, ball-dominating point guard to a pass, cut, move jump-shooting point guard. We've got to get [used to] that."

The other questions the final few weeks will deal with chemistry, considering Chris Kaman and Eric Gordon each sat out substantial portions of the season.

The Clippers know what Griffin and DeAndre Jordan can do on the court together. They are starting to see the developing chemistry between Griffin and Williams. But there are other mysteries beyond how Williams and Gordon coexist in the backcourt.

"Chris was as out for most of the year," Olshey said. "So we've got to see how Chris and Blake are going to play together. More than anything, all the key players are under contract, or will be under contract.

"We moved our first-round pick. So our draft position has nothing to do with how we're going to play in the final two weeks. We really need to build the momentum … that's not good enough but we're heading in the right direction."

To that end, Olshey said the final few weeks won't feature merely looking at the youngsters and giving them experience. He wants to see how all the pieces are fitting together, veterans and rookies.

The biggest missing piece is, of course, at small forward. It was a concern during the preseason and little has changed even with eight games left in the season.

"I don't think anyone one has stepped up and taken it," Olshey said, adding that Ryan Gomes had taken the spot by default, more or less.

"If there were any questions about the one, two, four and five [spots], those have been answered," Olshey said. "Eighty percent of our starting lineup is set."

Etc.

Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said he had not heard anything from the NBA regarding the incident between Derek Fisher and Kaman late in Friday night's Lakers-Clippers game.

What would he hope to hear?

"Their explanation," Del Negro said. "Like I said last night, I thought it was a clean play by Chris and whenever you go at somebody's head like that there should be consequences to it. And I didn't see the action during the game, but I saw it right after.

"There's no question his arm came up. The league will look at it. They make those decisions. … It was just unfortunate."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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