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Clippers pass test only on the curve

CLIPPERS

DeAndre Jordan provides blocked shots and rebounds in lackluster 108-95 victory over Pelicans.

December 18, 2013|By Ben Bolch

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It was like taking an open-book quiz two days after a far more challenging test.

Practically all the Clippers had to do was make sure they brought their class materials against the sub.-500 New Orleans Pelicans, who will never be confused with the San Antonio Spurs even with Anthony Davis back in the lineup.

Despite a low-energy start and star pupils Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford struggling through horrid shooting nights, the Clippers focused long enough to earn a 108-95 victory over the Pelicans on Wednesday at Staples Center.

BOX SCORE: Clippers 108, New Orleans 95

Clippers forward Blake Griffin earned high marks in a variety of areas, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists before fouling out with four minutes left.

Center DeAndre Jordan made sure the Clippers got the "D" they wanted, his five blocks highlighting a strong defensive effort that held the Pelicans to 39.8% shooting. Jordan also had 14 points and 20 rebounds and even put a quick end to the Pelicans' Hack-a-Jordan strategy by making one of two free throws with 21/2 minutes to play.

"I thought D.J. single-handedly kept us in it with his defense and his rebounding and everything else," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said.

Paul and Crawford combined to make only seven of 26 shots, but it hardly mattered after a third quarter in which the Clippers pushed their lead to as many as 18 points and withstood every Pelicans push the rest of the game. Griffin led the way in the quarter, his 13 points including one play in which he took a rebound at the three-point line and drove for a monstrous one-handed dunk.

Small forward Jared Dudley scored 20 points and Crawford had 17 for the Clippers (18-9), who led by only seven points at halftime after a largely lackluster first half. Rivers said he thought maybe the recently completed seven-game, 13-day trip finally caught up to his team.

"I was telling someone in the locker room, I was tired like two minutes into the game," Griffin said. "I don't know why, I guess it was just kind of that lag."

Davis, the New Orleans center who had been sidelined since Dec. 1 by a broken left hand, showed bounce in his return with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Forward Ryan Anderson added 17 points for the Pelicans (11-13), who lost the battle between guard Austin Rivers and his father, Doc.

Paul finished with 12 points on four-for-13 shooting to go with 11 assists but was conspicuously absent from the scoring column for most of the first half after totaling 61 points in his previous two games. He made three free throws late in the second quarter and added his first field goal on a short running jumper with 56 seconds left before halftime.

No worries. Griffin was there to infuse the points and Jordan the energetic boost the Clippers needed

"I don't know where it came from," Jordan said. "I'm getting kind of old; I'm 25 now."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

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