While it might not have looked like it on the surface, this one was
The Clippers build a 19-point lead in the fourth that allowed
most of the starters to rest.
"I was just telling Mo," Griffin said, breaking away from the
postgame banter. "To be in a game like this where I think we were
only in the fourth quarter for like 2-3 minutes, it's great. You
don't have to finish the game off and get the extra rest,
especially with this stretch of games coming up."
Just what Los Angeles needed.
Williams made all four of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter
to finish with 18 points, helping the Clippers build a 19-point
lead and begin a stretch of four games in five nights with a
victory. After losing three of the previous four games, Los Angeles
will play at Phoenix on Friday night with a little extra rest.
"I think the minutes are pretty good. Nobody played any heavy
minutes, which is big for us," said Williams, who finished 4-for-7
from beyond the arc. "You always want to have games like this,
especially on the road."
Sacramento evened the score at the half, but faded late.
Sacramento still had some good news Thursday: The city and team
announced a financing plan for a new $391 million arena that would
keep the franchise in California's capital for at least another 30
"Our tempo was just too slow tonight and that starts with me,"
said King guard Isaiah Thomas, who had 10 points, five rebounds and
four assists on the day he was named Western Conference rookie of
the month for February. "I feel like it was my fault this game,
because I didn't see my team going early.
Sacramento's other rebuilding project remains a work in
Griffin had two dunks -- including a soaring, uncontested
tomahawk slam that had the home fans buzzing -- and Paul taunted the
Kings bench after a pull-up jumper as the Clippers scored 11
straight points to go ahead 83-72 late in the third quarter.
The offense steamrolled Sacramento the rest of the way. Williams
made four 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter, Los Angeles built
a 19-point lead and never looked back.
"The top-level team made a lot of plays," Kings coach Keith
Griffin had a trio of dunks in the first half to lift Los
Angeles to a 10-point lead behind the team's usual high-flying
theatrics. After the Clippers started to pull away, the muscling
and tussling under the rim escalated.
As players headed to opposite benches during a timeout, Clippers
big man Reggie Evans walked by Francisco Garcia with an elbow near
the Sacramento forward's head. Garcia slapped his hand toward
Evans' head and Los Angeles' Kenyon Martin joined in the scrum,
getting whistled for a technical foul.
If only for a moment, the emotions fueled Sacramento's surge.
Rookie Jimmer Fredette made back-to-back 3-pointers -- the second
coming well behind the line with Paul pressuring -- to give the
Kings a 52-44 lead in the second quarter, bringing fans roaring to
their feet, including co-owner Gavin Maloof leaping off the ground
from his courtside seat next to his brother, Joe. Sacramento Mayor
Kevin Johnson, who has led the charge for a new arena, also
applauded from about 10 seats over.
The two sides are nearing the final step in an arena deal that
seemed improbable a year ago. Sacramento and the Kings released the financing plan earlier Thursday night.
The City Council will vote on the project Tuesday night.
Notes: Kings F J.J. Hickson left in the third quarter with a
lower back bruise. He will not travel with the team to Los Angeles,
where the Kings play the Lakers on Friday night. ... Thomas, the
60th and final pick of last year's NBA draft, led conference
rookies in February in scoring (12.2 points per game) and was
second in assists (4.4 per game).
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