LOS ANGELES — While the Los Angeles Clippers coast toward the NBA playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers continue to drift toward the draft lottery.
Point guard Chris Paul and forward Blake Griffin scored 23 points each, and the Clippers pounded the Lakers 120-97 Sunday at Staples Center.
The Clippers (55-23) captured the season series, winning three of four from the Lakers for the second year in a row. They also helped the Lakers match the worst record (30-52) in franchise history, matching the mark of the 1974-75 club.
The Clippers posted routs of 123-87 and 142-94 in the teams’ previous two meetings, with the 48-point shellacking being the worst defeat by a Lakers team and the largest winning margin by a Clippers club.
Paul, though, said he and his teammates had to cast those memories aside.
“Going into this game, like we’ve been saying for a while, it’s about us,” said Paul, who hit eight of 10 field goals, including all four of his attempts from behind the 3-point arc, and added six assists and three steals. “(Coach) Doc (Rivers) told us going into this game it’s about competing. You just want to make it to where when you get into the playoffs, it’s like clockwork and you don’t have to think about it. I think those are the teams that are usually at their best.”
Griffin finished with seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Neither he nor Paul played in the fourth quarter.
“I think we know who were are, we just really want to sharpen the things we do and really, really be hitting on all cylinders come playoffs,” Griffin said.
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan added 11 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, while guard J.J. Redick scored 15 points. Guard Darren Collison contributed 14 points and six assists.
The Lakers stayed close for a half before the Clippers blew them away in the third quarter. The Clippers outscored the Lakers 37-23 in the third for a 94-72 advantage heading into the fourth. Paul scored 10 points in the third.
The Clippers led 57-49 at the half, shooting 60.5 percent (23 of 38) from the floor compared to 41.5 percent (17 of 41) for the Lakers in the first half. However, the Lakers cashed in 13 Clippers turnovers for 16 points before intermission while committing seven turnovers that led to 10 points.
“When you looked at the numbers, we’re shooting 60 percent but we turned the ball over (13) times,” Rivers said. “So other than that, I liked the way we were playing. I just thought we were trying to do a little too much with the ball as a group, but once we took that over, I think in the second or third quarter, we had two turnovers and all of a sudden we had a bigger lead. I don’t think that was a coincidence.”
Overall, the Clippers shot 56.6 percent (47 of 83). The Lakers managed 41.9 percent (36 of 86). The Clippers also went 10-for-19 (52.6 percent) on 3-pointers, while the Lakers were a miserable 7-for-31 (22.6 percent).
“They shot the ball extremely well, and we started off not all on the same game plan,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But I thought our guys hung in there, they battled them, and it was what it was.”
Center Jordan Hill led the Lakers with 22 points, and he grabbed nine rebounds. Guard Nick Young scored 17 of his 18 points in the first half, and guard Jodie Meeks had 17 points. Guard Kendall Marshall scored 10 points and handed out 11 assists.
Young said the Clippers could compete for the NBA title.
“They’ve got a good chance; they’re loaded,” Young said.
After soundly dispatching the Lakers, the Clippers turned their attention toward the Oklahoma City Thunder, whom they host in a Western Conference showdown Wednesday night.
“It’s a big game for us,” Paul said.
NOTES: Lakers G/F Kent Bazemore suffered a sprained right foot early in the second quarter and did not return. He will be re-evaluated Monday. … Clippers G Jamal Crawford sat out his fourth consecutive game due to a sore left Achilles tendon. Crawford is listed as day-to-day. … Clippers F Danny Granger missed his fifth game with a strained left hamstring. … Lakers F/C Chris Kaman did not play for the third straight game because of a strained calf. … Coach Mike D’Antoni wasn’t amused before the game when asked if he realized by winning the rest of their games, the Lakers would avoid their worst finish in Los Angeles. “Yeah, we talk about that every day,” D’Antoni said sarcastically. … Paul McCartney attended the game with his wife, Nancy.
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