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Clippers win with a little restraint

Power forward Blake Griffin and Kings center DeMarcus Cousins play under control as L.A. picks up a 109-94 victory.

April 07, 2012|By Baxter Holmes

Moments before tipoff, they lightly bumped fists in passing, acknowledging each other with shoulders that appeared cold in a fashion that seemed forced. An olive branch this was not.

It was also not a prelude to anything more. Whatever distaste Blake Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins felt for each other remained buried within them during their game Saturday at Staples Center.

Griffin's Clippers pounded Cousins' Kings, 109-94, earning the Clippers their eighth win in nine games.

In moments when the two could have matched up against each other on offense or defense, the ball moved elsewhere. In others when either could have delivered a hard foul, there was only restraint.

If many in the sold-out crowd of 19,060 came to see two young, powerfully built (Griffin is 6 feet 10, 251 pounds; Cousins is 6-11, 270) players come to blows, then they left disappointed. If they were Clippers fans, they left happy.

Griffin finished with 27 points on 12-for-15 shooting (mostly dunks) and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Cousins struggled, making just five of 19 shots for 15 points. He did grab 20 rebounds.

As was usual in a Clippers game, one of the most physical plays of the night involved Griffin.

But Cousins was absent. Instead it was his teammate, guard Donte Greene.

Griffin led a one-man fastbreak in the third quarter when Greene caught up and pushed from behind. Greene continued to push as Griffin began to fall.

And just before he landed, with his body spinning in the air and his face away from the basket, Griffin threw up an underhanded, over-the-shoulder circus shot.

It went in, but the referees said it didn't count. Greene was charged with a flagrant-one foul.

There was some chippy play late, but nothing that some might have expected after Thursday's game in Sacramento, a Clippers win after which Cousins called Griffin an actor and said he was "babied" by the referees.

"I mean this in the nicest possible way, you have to consider the source," Griffin said after Saturday night's game.

The NBA fined Cousins $25,000 for his comments.

"I think Blake is a good actor; I've seen his commercials," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro quipped after his team's Saturday morning shootaround. "But I wouldn't say he's an actor on the court."

Guard Chris Paul, who finished with 19 points and 15 assists, shrugged off Cousins' remarks.

"That's fine," he said after the shootaround. "We won. He lost. We're competing in the playoffs. He's not."

And just like in their previous matchup, the Clippers, now a half-game behind the Lakers for third place in the Western Conference standings, won and the Kings, in next-to-last place, lost.

The Clippers led by 14 in the first half before the Kings narrowed that lead to five at halftime.

Randy Foye made seven of his first eight three-point shots to keep the Clippers lead wide. He finished with 25 points.

In the fourth quarter, the Clippers pulled away in a flurry of highlight-reel plays.

The capper: an off-the-backboard alley-oop pass from Paul to guard Eric Bledsoe, who slammed it down with two hands, giving the Clippers a 92-78 lead with 8 minutes 49 seconds left.

From there, the lead grew to 20 and each team inserted their backups for the final minutes.

When the buzzer sounded, Griffin and Cousins were among several players from each team who shook hands and hugged opposing players.

But the two of them left the court without sharing so much as fist bump.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com twitter.com/baxterholmes

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