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Clippers 112, Suns 105

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LOS ANGELES — Clippers forward Blake Griffin scored 37 points and got into a fourth-quarter skirmish with Suns guard P.J. Tucker in Los Angeles’ 112-105 victory over Phoenix at Staples Center on Monday night.

The Clippers won their eighth in a row and beat the Suns for the second time in the past week. The Suns, who lost to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night, fell for the second time in as many nights.

Griffin and Tucker got into a scuffle with 5:28 left. The two got tangled up on the floor under the Clippers’ basket, and Tucker appeared to punch Griffin before players from both teams intervened. Tucker was ejected.

Griffin, who had six rebounds and six turnovers, fouled out with 3:23 remaining. He connected on 14 of 16 shots from the floor and nine of 10 free throws.

The Clippers (45-20) led by as much as 25 before the Suns rallied late in the game.

The Suns (36-27) pulled within 109-105 after a layup by guard Goran Dragic with 32.5 seconds remaining, but Los Angeles forward Matt Barnes, who finished with 13 points, hit two free throws with 20.9 seconds left to seal the win for the Clippers.

Guard Darren Collison scored 20 points for the Clippers, while point guard Chris Paul had 17 points and 11 assists. Forward Danny Granger had his best game since joining Los Angeles as a free agent, scoring 14 points. Clippers center DeAndre Jordan had 17 rebounds, three blocks and eight points.

The Clippers stormed to a 62-45 halftime lead behind Griffin, who scored 22 of his 29 first-half points in the first quarter. For the half, Griffin was 11-for-12 from the floor in only 17 minutes.

Griffin’s 22 points were the second-highest total in a first quarter for a Clipper. Randy Smith set the mark of 23 against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 20, 1973, and Baron Davis tied the record against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 29, 2010.

Dragic led seven Phoenix players in double figures with 23 points, 20 of them in the second half. Forward Markieff Morris and guard Gerald Green scored 16 apiece. Tucker had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

NOTES: Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Suns G/F Gerald Green in Boston, said the sixth-year player is improving due to maturity. Green scored a career-high 41 points against the Oklahoma City Thunder last week. “He just needed time to grow up. That’s not meaning he was a bad guy. He was just young,” Rivers said. … Clippers G Jamal Crawford, who aggravated his strained left calf in Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Hawks, didn’t play Monday. Crawford, listed as day-to-day, also is expected to miss Wednesday’s game against the Golden State Warriors. … Los Angeles G/F Jared Dudley missed his third straight game due to back spasms. … Phoenix G Eric Bledsoe, out since Jan. 10 after undergoing arthroscopy surgery on his right knee, is expected to return Wednesday when the Suns host the Cleveland Cavaliers. … Suns C Miles Plumlee returned after missing two games with a right knee sprain. … The game drew a sellout crowd of 19,226.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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