SACRAMENTO -- This was a bounce-back game for the Clippers.
It was a game to see how they would respond after losing a tough game to the Lakers on Wednesday night. It was a game to see how the Clippers would respond to playing a Sacramento Kings team that has one of the worst records in the NBA, to see if the Clippers would have the energy on a back-to-back night after exerting so much against the Lakers.
Though it wasn't easy, the Clippers got the 93-85 victory over the Kings on Thursday night at Power Balance Pavilion, a game in which Blake Griffin and Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins got physical and exchanged words right up to the end.
"That's what we talked about going into the game, bouncing back," said Chris Paul, who didn't have one of his better games.
He had 13 points but missed 12 of his 16 shots. He also had eight assists, five rebounds, five steals and five of the Clippers' 18 turnovers.
Griffin had six of his 14 points in the decisive fourth quarter.
Randy Foye had a team-high 20 points, including four consecutive free throws to secure the game for the Clippers, who meet the Kings and Cousins again Saturday night at Staples Center.
"It wasn't just about bouncing back. It was about setting a tone for Saturday," Paul said. "When you play these type of games where it's home and home, you've got to set the precedent in the first game.
"We didn't really do that, but we won."
Griffin and Cousins exchanged shoves and pushes late in the game, and Cousins connected with an elbow in the fourth quarter..
There was a play late in the game when Griffin's defense on Cousins forced the Kings' young center to turn over the ball over with 15.7 seconds left and the Clippers holding an 88-85 lead.
Then Cousins started talking trash to Griffin. Cousins even challenged Griffin to meet him after the game.
"Guys get frustrated and that's what happens," Griffin said. "Like I said, I'm not trying to get into a verbal back and forth. Whatever happened out there happened and I'll move on."
Cousins was in foul trouble most of the game, playing just 18 minutes, and getting eight points and three rebounds before he fouled out.
But he had words for Griffin after the game.
"He's in L.A., where actors belong," Cousins said. "He's an actor, so of course he would say that."
The "Beat L.A" chants rang out with the Kings leading by three points and the Clippers in control of the ball with 3:50 left.
They were heard again with the Clippers inbounding the basketball with 17.1 seconds left and leading by one.
Paul got the ball to Foye, who was fouled and made both free throws for an 88-85 lead.
Then Griffin got the defensive stop on Cousins and Foye made two more free throws.
"Obviously, we need every win down the stretch," Griffin said after the Clippers improved to 13-13 on the road and closed to within two games of the Lakers. "So all these games for us are kind of like playoff games because we're jockeying for position. It's a great win because it is off a back-to-back and we're on the road after an emotional game last night."