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Everybody gets an assist in Clippers' victory

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul step up with two key players unavailable in 106-84 victory over lowly Bobcats.

February 26, 2013|By Broderick Turner

The challenge for the Clippers on Tuesday night was twofold.

It was to see which level the Clippers would play at against a Charlotte Bobcats team with the worst record in the NBA and to do so with two key players not available.

The Clippers met the challenge by playing at a high level from the second quarter on, rolling to a 106-84 victory at Staples Center.

L.A. had to make its push without its key reserve guards. Jamal Crawford was home in Seattle for the birth of his daughter and Eric Bledsoe didn't play because of a sore left calf.

That meant starters Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups would have to play more minutes. It meant Matt Barnes would play some in the backcourt.

But what it really meant was that Blake Griffin would have to dominate, and he did.

Griffin had 24 points on 11-for-14 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, six assists and one blocked shot, all without playing in the fourth quarter.

Paul had only seven points and turned the ball over five times, but he also had 13 of the Clippers' 34 assists and two steals, also not playing in the fourth quarter.

"It was [about] focusing on ourselves," Griffin said. "Doing the right things, running the offense the right way, playing defense the right way and not worrying about what our matchups were or things like that. I thought we did a good job after that initial first quarter of doing that."

Billups, playing the backup point guard role, played a season-high of more than 24 minutes. He scored only three points on one-for-six shooting, but had five assists.

Barnes had 17 points on six-for-10 shooting, making three of six three-point attempts. He also had seven assists.

"I think tonight, even though we were undermanned, everybody stepped up," Paul said.

Late in the third quarter, DeAndre Jordan, who had 13 points on six-for-six shooting and four blocked shots, rejected a shot by Brendan Haywood, retrieved the ball and got it to Paul.

The Clippers were off to the races, Paul having Jordan running on the left wing and Griffin on the right.

Paul slipped a pass to Griffin, who went up for a dunk with his right hand but switched over to his left hand for a powerful slam while being fouled by Gerald Henderson.

Griffin made the free throw to complete the three-point play for a 76-57 Clippers lead.

That was one of the many highlight plays the Clippers provided over a Bobcats team that dropped to 13-44.

"We have two dynamic bigs in Blake and DJ who can guard and block shots and get out and run," Paul said. "So we're at our best when we're in transition."

The Clippers had those 34 assists on 41 made field goal attempts. They shot 53.9% from the field, 54.5% (12 for 22) from three-point range. So what if they made only 12 of 26 free throws?

"We are really tough to beat when we get 25 or 30 assists," Billups said. "You don't allow a team to lock in on you when you do that."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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