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Clippers 105, Hornets 91

The SportsXchange

NEW ORLEANS - Blake Griffin scored 19 points, leading five players in double figures, and the Los Angeles Clippers made a dozen 3-pointers to defeat the New Orleans Hornets 105-91 Wednesday night at the New Orleans Arena.

The Clippers (49-23) had lost 11 of their previous 12 road games against the Hornets, but they made the Hornets pay for a collapsing defense with their sizzling perimeter shooting and also made 24 of 28 free throw attempts.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak by the Hornets (25-47).

The Clippers built a 61-50 lead with 9:44 left in the third quarter, but the Hornets went on a 19-9 run to cut the deficit to 70-69. Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis were the offensive catalysts, with Gordon driving to the basket at every opportunity and Davis hitting mid-range jumpers after Gordon's penetration.

But after Ryan Anderson tipped in a Brian Roberts miss to draw the Hornets within 81-79, Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes nailed back-to-back 3s - the 11th and 12th of the game for the Clippers - and Los Angeles again padded its lead to 87-79 with 10:00 left. Los Angeles extended the lead to 98-85 with 4:27 remaining on a foul shot by Griffin.

Gordon paced the Hornets with 24 points, and Gordon added 19.

The Hornets led 41-34, but the Clippers closed the first half with a 22-7 run in the final 4:26 of the second quarter to take a 56-48 lead.

The Clippers were 8 of 13 from 3-point range, and six of those came in that surge. Butler and Billups had two 3-pointers each. Billups' 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer came after Chris Paul stole the inbounds pass from Terrel Harris near halfcourt - his third steal of the half - and fed the ball to Billups, who was wide open on the right wing.

Los Angeles ended the half with three 3-pointers in the final 43 seconds.

Billups led the Clippers with 11 first-half points, but he apparently aggravated his groin injury early in the third quarter and went to the locker room. Griffin and Butler added 10 each for Los Angeles in the first half. The Hornets were paced by Robin Lopez's 11 points and five rebounds.

NOTES: Prior to the game, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of Billups, who missed the previous three games with a strained right groin before aggravating it in the game, "Not many guys are 100 percent at this time of year," Del Negro said. "We'll manage his minutes." ... Former Hornets point guard Chris Paul has impressed New Orleans coach Monty Williams by taking on more of a scoring role this year. "He's a great passer, but this year I think he's probably feeling better as far has legs are concerned, so he's scoring a lot more," Williams said. "He has so many weapons around him that it's hard to double-team him. You try to pick your poison when it comes to Chris. Trying to shut him down is not something that any team can do. You just hope he's having a bad night, which he usually doesn't have. He can knock down a standstill 3, a floater -- all those things are a part of his game. When those other guys are shooting, it makes him even more dangerous." ... The Hornets entered the game with three consecutive victories over teams headed to the playoffs -- Boston, Memphis and Denver -- and had allowed just 85.0 points per game. "You get confidence by playing good defense," Williams said. "The defense has been really good for us. When we can stop teams from scoring, especially teams that are known for executing and scoring, playoff teams, that builds confidence."
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