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Chris Paul, Blake Griffin lead Clippers to 103-95 win over Nuggets

Paul scores a season-high 36 points and Griffin scores 27 as Clippers head to All-Star break on a positive note.

February 22, 2012|By Broderick Turner

The goal for the Clippers on Wednesday night really was twofold.

It was to end the first half of the regular season on a winning note and to exact some revenge on a Denver Nuggets team that had embarrassed the Clippers the last time the teams played in Los Angeles.

Mission accomplished on both fronts, courtesy of another big game from both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the two catalysts behind the Clippers' 103-95 victory at Staples Center.

"Obviously Chris and Blake were huge for us," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said.

Paul was the one who encouraged his teammates not forget the 21-point loss the Nuggets put on the Clippers on Feb. 2. Paul also was the one who wanted his teammates to get back to their winning ways.

Though Paul got help with four of the five starters scoring in double figures, he was the one who made sure he did something about it all.

He scored a season-high 36 points on 11-for-16 shooting, and he handed out nine assists.

"I got to the gym a little earlier today — I also did at Golden State," Paul said. "I'm just trying to get a rhythm. Just making a few shots here and there makes a big difference."

Griffin had another double-double with 27 points on 11-for-18 shooting, 12 rebounds and five assists.

The Clippers had lost consecutive games for just the second time this season — to San Antonio in overtime on Saturday and to Golden State on Monday.

The plan for the Clippers was to not go into this weekend's All-Star break on a three-game losing streak.

"It was very important, not only to get this win coming off two tough losses, but this was a team that we had split [with] so far," Paul said about Denver. "And they pretty much embarrassed us on national TV. So it's good to get this win and get our confidence going before the break."

But it wasn't easy for the Clippers (20-11), made even more difficult when Griffin went down early in the fourth quarter.

Griffin had leaped high in the air and flipped over teammate Randy Foye, who had taken a charge.

Griffin hit the court hard on his back, while Foye also lie on the court. Griffin took a seat on the bench with 10 minutes 6 seconds left in the game, an ice bag on his left elbow.

Griffin returned with 7:09 left and the Clippers trailing, 90-89.

And then there was Kenyon Martin, who suffered bruised ribs in the second quarter. Martin played in the third, but came out toward the end of the quarter and didn't return.

That meant center DeAndre Jordan played more in the fourth quarter than he has in the past.

Jordan had 10 points and 16 rebounds, nine offensive. He also had three blocked shots.

His tip dunk late gave the Clippers a 101-93 lead.

Then he blocked a shot by Arron Afflalo.

"I love to play in the fourth quarter," Jordan said. "I feel like a lot of our games are close in the fourth and we need to get stops. So we me being our defensive anchor, I feel like that's one of my responsibilities to be there for my teammates."

The Nuggets were without starters Danilo Gallinari (chip fracture in left foot), Nene (left calf injury) and Ty Lawson (ankle), and key reserve Rudy Fernandez (back).

Still, they gave the Clippers all they could handle with players like rookie Kenneth Faried, former UCLA star Afflalo, Corey Brewer and substitute Al Harrington.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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