NEW ORLEANS — The ball was moving and the ball was dropping, and for Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a former point guard, offensive efficiency doesn’t get much better than that.
Guard Jamal Crawford scored 24 points, including seven of 12 from behind the arc, and forward Blake Griffin scored 11 of his 22 points in the third quarter to power the Clippers to a 123-110 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans Monday night at the Smoothie King Center.
It was the 11th time this season the high-flying Clippers had scored at least 120 points in a game, and they did it with 57 percent shooting (16 of 28) from 3-point range coupled with more than a dozen rim-rattling dunks.
“Our execution was close to flawless,” Rivers said after the Clippers won for the seventh time in eight games. “We were getting dunks and we started making 3s, and that opened the middle back up. It’s just really nice.”
The Clippers (39-20) also got 14 points and 16 rebounds from center DeAndre Jordan — six of his first seven field goals came on dunks and the other was a layup — and 19 points and 13 assists from point guard Chris Paul, who scored 17 of his points in the second half.
The Clippers were so effective they recorded 34 assists on 43 made field goals.
“It’s one thing Doc really keeps staying on me about — pitching it ahead and making sure the ball is moving and popping,” Paul said. “The ball finds energy.”
Crawford, normally a lethal scorer off the bench, started his eighth consecutive game for the injured J.J. Redick and scorched the Pelicans’ perimeter defense. In the second quarter, Crawford notched the 40th 4-point play of his career — an NBA record — with a 3-pointer from the left wing and a free throw after being fouled by Eric Gordon.
“I think it’s shooting it when people are least expecting it,” Crawford said of his 4-point play, which gave Los Angeles a 47-35 lead. “At that point, they’re trying to challenge and I’m already in shooting motion. The hardest part after that is hitting the free throw. My teammates are doing a good job finding me and setting good screens.”
The 16 3-pointers by the Clippers were the most allowed by the Pelicans this year.
“They had one of their nights where the ball was going in for them,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said. “There were a lot of shots that we had a hand up (to contest) and they threw it up in the sky and it came down and went in the bucket. We just allowed their offense to dictate our spirit, especially in the third quarter.”
Griffin took control with 11 third-quarter points. On consecutive possessions, Griffin posted Pelicans forward Anthony Davis down low and bulled his way in for layups, drawing a pair of fouls on Davis. When Griffin jammed home a dunk off an alley-oop feed from Paul, who had stolen the ball on the other end, that finished off the fast break for a 76-58 lead.
Crawford had a pair of 3s in the run.
“He’s been great,” Rivers said. “They find him, they trust him. I’m just more proud of him on the other end. It’s great for him to know he’s more than just a scorer. I always laugh, because if you can beat a guy off the dribble, you can keep a guy in front of you with the dribble. He’s been doing that and he’s enjoying that.”
Davis had a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds for the Pelicans (23-33), who lost for the sixth time in seven games. Center Alexis Ajinca added a career-high 19 points for the Pelicans.
“It was tough for A.D. to take on everybody by himself,” Ajinca said. “Blake was being physical, and it was hard to overcome that.”
NOTES: Newly acquired Clippers F Glen Davis, who took a buyout from the Orlando Magic, said he was courted both by his former Celtics teammates — current Brooklyn F Kevin Garnett and G Paul Pierce — and by Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who coached Boston to the 2008 NBA title. Davis said it was a tough call. “When you have family on both sides of the field it is hard, because you’ve won a championship with both guys,” Davis said. “I really just felt the Clippers were heading in the right direction. They’re young, they’ve got a great coach, a great point guard, a great rising star like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and guys you can build around. I feel I’m one of those type of guys (who is) a ‘glue’ guy.” … Rivers said of Davis: “I’m sure my previous relationship with him helped make his decision.” … New Orleans coach Monty Williams said PG Jrue Holiday, who has missed the past 21 games with a stress fracture in his right tibia, was not close to returning.
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