Chris Paul saved the day for the Clippers, rescuing them from another ragged defensive effort and helping them — barely — hold off the aggressive Sacramento Kings.
Paul scored 22 points in their 103-102 victory over the Kings, including the three-point shot that brought the Clippers even at 98-98 with 1:25 left in the fourth quarter and the layup that put them ahead, 100-98. He gave them a 103-102 lead with 2.5 seconds left when he hit the first of two free throws but missed the second, and the Kings called time out with 1.9 seconds left.
DeMarcus Cousins’ potential game-winning shot fell short, allowing the Clippers to wrap up the win. However, Paul’s NBA-record streak of double-doubles from the start of the season ended at 13. He had nine assists.
Sacramento drove through the paint almost at will and surged ahead in the second half after falling behind by 20 in the second quarter. But Paul’s clutch performance enabled the Clippers to improve their home record to 6-1 despite allowing an opponent to score 100 points or more for the 11th time in 14 games.
DeMarcus Cousins led both teams with 23 points. DeAndre Jordan had 17 points for the Clippers but made only five of 14 free throws, including two misses while the Clippers trailed, 94-89.
The Clippers seemed to take control with a 16-0 run in the first quarter, with each starter scoring at least once in that span. The Kings (4-8) made a 14-4 run of their own in the second quarter, but the Clippers led, 57-48, after the first half.
Cousins led a surge that cut the lead to 64-62 in the third quarter, as the Kings repeatedly went into the paint and found little resistance. Sacramento continued to push, and the Clippers pushed back strongly enough to take a 75-69 lead after three quarters, but Sacramento rallied to take a 79-78 lead on a 16-foot jump shot by Patrick Patterson.
Sacramento scored 46 points in the paint, to 30 for the Clippers.
Poor free-throw shooting haunted the Clippers again as they were 26 for 45. Sacramento hit 23 of 30.
The Clippers also committed 19 turnovers, to 11 by Sacramento and were outrebounded, 46-39.
For the Clippers, Jamal Crawford recorded the 38th four-point play of his career, extending his NBA record in that category. The Clippers will play host to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday in another afternoon game. The Bulls won’t have Derrick Rose, who injured his right knee Friday and was found to have a meniscus tear that will require surgery, the team announced on Saturday. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers sympathized with the gifted but often-injured point guard.
“Really sad,” Rivers said. “I can’t be like a fan of opposing players, but if I was one he would be right at the top. And it’s not just his play — it’s how he carries himself and how he plays and how singled-minded he is about winning and being a pro. I’m really praying that he’s OK and it’s not something bad.”
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