NEW ORLEANS — On a night when the Clippers were still smarting and weary from an overtime loss to Dallas, they received the lift it needed from their reserves.
Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins, Lamar Odom and Eric Bledsoe won this game with their play in the fourth quarter, helping the Clippers carve out a 105-91 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena.
Because those five played so well, it allowed Chris Paul to play just 33 minutes 44 seconds against the Hornets, one night after he played 39:27 against the Mavericks on Tuesday night.
BOX SCORE: Clippers 105, Hornets 91
Paul finished with 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds against the Hornets, looking relatively fresh playing back-to-back games.
The Clippers had gotten a fresh Chauncey Billups back for the first time after sitting out three games with a strained right groin. But he reaggravated it early in the third quarter and didn't return.
“Once you throw the ball up, last night is gone,” Paul said. “We knew this team wasn't going to feel sorry for us. And our bench was amazing — Hollins, Eric Bledsoe and those guys.”
The Clippers' bench had 20 of the team's 26 points in the fourth, five of the eight rebounds, and three of the four assists.
For the game, the Clippers' reserves outscored the Hornets' reserves, 39-20.
“It's been a while since we've played that well,” Crawford, who led the reserves with 13 points, said about the play of the unit. “It felt like it, too. And we had everybody back in the position to do what they do. We all know exactly what to expect from each other.”
The Clippers gained some ground in the Western Conference, going from the fourth seed after the Dallas loss to the third seed following the win over New Orleans.
The Clippers (49-23) opened a half a game lead over fourth-seeded Denver (49-24), which lost to San Antonio on Wednesday night, and a 11/2-game lead over fifth-seeded Memphis (47-24), which lost on Wednesday night to New York.
“After you lose like that against Dallas, the next game can't come fast enough,” Crawford said. “We were blessed to be able to have a game today. And we weren't going to let this opportunity pass us by.”
The Clippers tied the single-season record for most wins in franchise history, held by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves.
And by winning here in New Orleans, the Clippers established a franchise record for the most road wins at 21-15.
The Clippers had lost nine consecutive games on the road to the Hornets, last winning a game here in January 2007.
But the bench made sure that record was snapped, too.
By the time starter Blake Griffin (19 points) returned for Odom with 6:58 left, the Clippers were ahead by eight points that grew back to 10 points on two free throws by Bledsoe.
Then Bledsoe passed to Hollins for a dunk and a 95-83 Clippers lead.
With 3:52 left in the game, Paul replaced Crawford with Bledsoe at the free-throw line making one of two free throws for a 99-87 Clippers lead.
“For me to come back in with 3:52 left in the fourth, an eight-point cushion, that's love. That's love,” Paul said. “That just says a lot about our second unit.”