SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Halfway through their season, the Los Angeles Clippers aren’t about to fool themselves into thinking they’re a polished product.
But despite first-half inconsistencies and a roster shake-up this past week, they still reached the midway point with 27 victories and among the top eight in the NBA’s loaded Western Conference.
“I think we’re in good shape,” guard Jamal Crawford said after his eight straight points ignited a key fourth-quarter run in the Clippers’ 117-108 win over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.
“We’re obviously going to be compared to ourselves from last season, and we have a totally different second unit. So we just have to keep working, keep coming together.”
Crawford’s outburst helped extend the Clippers’ 83-78 lead entering the fourth quarter to 92-80 and helped Los Angeles (27-14) rebound from a 126-121 loss at home to Cleveland on Friday night.
That was the first game that Los Angeles played since trading for guard Austin Rivers, the son of head coach Doc Rivers, and ridding themselves of swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts and former first-round pick Reggie Bullock. They also released guard Jordan Farmar to make room for Rivers.
“I like our team. I’ve been saying that,” Doc Rivers said. “I don’t think it’s a perfect team, but we don’t care.”
Forward Blake Griffin scored 30 points, and forward Matt Marnes added 26 points and 10 rebounds as the Clippers methodically dispatched the short-handed Kings.
Sacramento (16-24) played without forwards DeMarcus Cousins and Carl Landry and guard Ramon Sessions. Forward Omri Casspi was limited to 43 seconds because of an eye injury.
The Kings fell to 2-10 this season when Cousins doesn’t play.
“For us to be undermanned like we were, I thought our guys showed a lot of character, focus and determination,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They came out on the man and really fought hard to have a chance to win.”
Forward Jason Thompson had 23 points and a career-high 21 rebounds for Sacramento, and forward Rudy Gay scored 17 points in his first game off the bench since Feb. 1, 2013, when he made his debut for the Toronto Raptors against the Clippers.
Gay, who missed the previous two games with a sprained left knee capsule, was a game-time decision but wasn’t on the bench when the game started. He came off the bench nearly 10 minutes into the first quarter and wound up playing 34 minutes.
“I didn’t know, but then, nothing ever surprises me,” Kings forward Jason Thompson said. “It was a spark.”
Thompson provided one, too, adding 23 points and career-high 21 rebounds, including four points in one sequence early in the game.
“He did some great things for us on defense and on offense,” Corbin said. “He set some screens and was able to hit a couple of shots for us. He shot with a lot of confidence and really found his rhythm.”
Sacramento, which opened the game with a 13-1 rebounding advantage, beat the Clippers 54-34 on the glass, including 22-11 on the offensive end. But they turned over the ball 18 times, leading to 16 Clippers points.
The Clippers also received a typical lift from Barnes, who also seems to save his best for when he’s playing in his hometown. Barnes scored 22 points in the first quarter and made 10 of 15 shots from the field.
“I just wanted to set a tone early, and my shots were falling,” he said. “It’s a process, and slowly, surely, I think we’re playing much better.”
Guard J.J. Reddick finished with 18 points, and point guard Chris Paul added 12 points and nine assists for the Clippers in 32 minutes.
Guard Darren Collison scored 17 points, his 15th straight game scoring in double figures for the Kings. Guard Ben McLemore added 14 points, and forward Derrick Williams scored 13 in his second straight start for Sacramento.
NOTES: The Kings signed 6-foot-10 F Quincy Miller to a 10-day contract, and he had one point and two rebounds in six minutes off the bench. Miller was on the bench against the Clippers. Miller was averaging 26.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in 14 games for Reno, Sacramento’s D-League affiliate. The move provided a frontcourt body for the Kings, who were without forwards DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) and Carl Landry (wrist). … The rigorous pounding on Cousins is taking a toll. He sat out his career-high 12th game against the Clippers and has now missed 23 in the past 1 1/2 seasons after missing 10 in his first three seasons. … Meanwhile, Clippers C DeAndre Jordan extended the NBA’s longest current ironman streak to 281 games. Jordan hasn’t missed a game since the 2010-11 season. … Clippers G Chris Paul and F Blake Griffin each played more than 40 minutes in Los Angeles’ 126-121 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. … The Kings closed out their final back-to-back home set of the season. They split two of them and were swept in the third. … The Clippers have played five sets of back-to-backs on the road and are 6-4 in the 10 games. They have three more back-to-back road sets.
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