Clippers guard Nick Young splits the defense of Hornets forward Gustavo… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Coach Vinny Del Negro’s seat continued to cool Monday as the Clippers crushed the short-handed New Orleans Hornets, 97-85, in front of 19,060 at Staples Center.
The win was the second consecutive for the Clippers after last week’s season-high three-game losing streak started speculation that Del Negro might soon be out of a job.
That talk was quieted as the Clippers dominated a team they lost to less than a week ago, building a lead by as many as 27 points.
Against his former team, Clippers guard Chris Paul had 25 points and 10 assists and teammate Blake Griffin finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Guard Nick Young added 17 points off the bench.
The Clippers (28-21) remain in sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference standings and two games behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division.
The Hornets (12-37) put up a fight early in the second quarter, coming back to tie the score after trailing by as much as 16 in the first quarter.
But in the second half, the Clippers leaned on and pummeled New Orleans, which was without center Chris Kaman (illness), forward Jason Smith (suspended), guard Eric Gordon (right knee contusion) and center Emeka Okafur (sore left knee).
Each team shot 50%, but if you're looking for the stat of the game, it's turnovers.
The Hornets committed 29 of them and the Clippers converted those into 35 points.
The Hornets were led in scoring by former Clipper forward Al-Farouq Aminu, who had 15 points.
The Clippers return to the court when they play host to Phoenix on Thursday night.
Clippers 74, Hornets 55 (end of third quarter)
Your nightly Blake Griffin highlight was delivered with about 8 minutes left in the third quarter.
And you'll probably be seeing replays of it for some time.
Griffin was driving down the right side of the lane when he took off from several feet away, weaving through the flailing arms of two defenders as he cocked the ball way back with his right hand.
When he arrived at the rim, he delivered the dunk with the force he's become known for.
Not long after that dunk, Griffin put some force into a hard foul against Hornets forward Trevor Ariza as he was driving to the basket, a hit for which Griffin was tagged with a flagrant foul 1.
The hit seemed to be a retaliation foul for Griffin, who was hit quite hard by Jason Smith while driving to the rim when these teams met last week. Smith received a two-game suspension for said hit, which was deemed a flagrant foul 2.
Ariza was hit with a technical foul for his reaction after Griffin's hard foul, with Ariza delivering some not-so-nice words toward Griffin.
Aside from that drama, the Clippers resumed their regularly scheduled pummeling of the Hornets that began in the first quarter until they slacked off.
The Clippers, who are shooting 51%, have been lead by Chris Paul (23 points, seven assists) and Griffin (15 points, six rebounds, five assists).
The only player to score in double figures for New Orleans is Carl Landry, who has 10 points.
In the points-in-the-paint category, the Clippers hold a dominating 42-24 edge.
Clippers 49, Hornets 38 (halftime)
Clippers fans were not happy when the Hornets came back to tie the score after trailiing by as much as 16 points early in the first quarter.
Many of those fans rained boos down on their team. One man decided to rain something else.
With about 8 minutes left in the second quarter, play was stopped and a man sitting in the stands near midcourt was ejected. A Clippers spokesperson said the man was ejected because he threw a peanut that hit New Orleans Coach Monty Williams.
So, there's that.
But the Clippers were able to rebuild some of the lead that they gave away and entered halftime ahead by double digits.
All-Star power forward Blake Griffin has a game-high 10 points for the Clippers, who are shooting 57%.
Jarret Jack and Marco Belinelli each have a team-high seven points for New Orleans, which is shooting 53%.
Clippers 27, Hornets 20 (end of first quarter)
The woeful New Orleans Hornets are playing short-handed on the road against a significantly better team that has revenge on its mind.
That's largely why the Clippers are winning tonight's matchup at Staples Center
Here's the list of inactive players for the Hornets: fomer Clippers center Chris Kaman (illness), forward Jason Smith (suspended), former Clippers guard Eric Gordon (right knee contusion) and center Emeka Okafur (sore left knee).
Combine that with the fact that the Hornets (12-36) beat the Clippers in New Orleans less than a week ago, and you would've bet good money that the Clippers would be fired up in this one.
And the Clippers started out that way, at least.
They jumped to an 18-2 lead against New Orleans and it looked like a mercy rule of some sort might need to be enforced.
Then, the Clippers seemed to fall asleep at the wheel and the Hornets charged back, cutting their deficit to 25-20.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan each have a team-high seven points for the Clippers, who are shooting 57%.
Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli each have five points to lead New Orleans, which is shooting 47%.
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