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Crawford, Clippers get fourth win on trip

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Scoring has never been an issue for Jamal Crawford. He didn’t have any trouble doing that on Wednesday night, but the Los Angeles Clippers took greater satisfaction in his defense.

Crawford made a pivotal block in the late going then hit a game-clinching 3-pointer in the Clippers’ 104-98 victory over the floundering Detroit Pistons at The Palace.

“As much as he’s scoring, the guys are giving him high-fives about the block,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. “It was comical, and it was great. He felt great about that, and it makes the coaches feel good, too.”

Crawford, a shooting guard and the team’s sixth man, piled up 14 of his game-high 25 points and added two assists during the fourth quarter when the Clippers outscored the Pistons 32-25. His block of Detroit shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 3-point try stood above anything he did on the offensive end in his mind.

“I want to be a better all-around player,” said Crawford, a 15-year veteran. “Early in my career, I used to have the mentality where I felt I could outscore anybody. Since I’ve come here and Doc’s been here and his team of coaches, I really take pride in my defense. I’m more mad at myself than they are at me if I make a mistake because they tell us exactly where to be.”

Chris Paul had 23 points and seven assists and power forward Blake Griffin added 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Clippers (9-5), who are 4-1 on their seven-game road trip. They committed 15 turnovers and allowed 12 offensive rebounds as Detroit (3-12), which is tied for the second-fewest wins in the league, hung around until the final minute.

“You’re not going to have it every night,” Paul said. “Tonight it was one of those games where you just find a way to win. A week from now, it’s just going to say win-loss. That team fought hard and hit some big shots. We had a few defensive lapses and a lot of turnovers, especially turnovers that led to points for them. That’s not like us.”

Point guard D.J. Augustin had 19 points and five assists for the Pistons (3-12), who have lost six straight. That equals their longest losing streak of last season, when they finished 29-53.

Center Andre Drummond contributed 17 points and 13 rebounds, forward Josh Smith supplied 17 points and six assists and Caldwell-Pope also had 17 points for Detroit.

“I thought we had a lot of guys play well tonight,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It came down the stretch and we couldn’t stop their two main guys, and I couldn’t find something for us to get similar quality shots.”

Paul, the Clippers’ perennial All-Star point guard, scored 14 third-quarter points but the Pistons still clung to a 73-72 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. The Clippers’ bench, led by Crawford, carried them in the final 12 minutes by scoring 26 of their 32 points.

“I thought the bench turned it around in that four- to five-minute stretch at the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Rivers said. “They got stops and scored every time. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

Crawford made a crossover move to free himself for a layup, then dropped in a 3-pointer to give the Clippers a 79-75 lead. Forward Hedo Turkoglu’s trey with 5:49 remaining made it 88-79 and Crawford’s baseline drive pushed the lead to double digits.

Detroit roared back with nine unanswered points before Griffin ended the Clippers’ drought with a dunk. After Caldwell-Pope missed a 3-pointer, Paul made an open 3-pointer for a 98-91 lead.

Crawford’s block and 3-pointer finished off the home team.

“We just didn’t get any stops to keep us ahead,” Caldwell-Pope said. “They made open shots.”

NOTES: PG Brandon Jennings, Detroit’s leading scorer, missed his second straight game with a sprained left thumb. … Clippers SF Matt Barnes sat out his second consecutive game with a sore left calf. Reggie Bullock made his second career start in place of Barnes. … Clippers SG Jamal Crawford, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, leads all NBA reserves at 18.1 points per game. “He’s a professional scorer,” coach Doc Rivers said. … Los Angeles C DeAndre Jordan extended the league’s longest active playing streak to 254 games. … Detroit’s last home win over the Clippers was a 108-90 blowout on March 20, 2009. … Detroit PF Greg Monroe (15.3 ppg, 10.1 rpg) was one of 11 NBA players averaging a double-double entering Wednesday’s action. … Los Angeles will travel 7,231 miles during its seven-game trip.