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Clippers 109, Lakers 95

The SportsXchange

Finally, the Los Angeles Clippers have a championship banner to hang.

Finally, a franchise born 43 seasons ago and moved around the country from Buffalo to San Diego to Los Angeles can claim something significant.

And to think, they beat their cross-town rival Lakers to complete the feat.

At long last, the Clippers are a division champion. A 109-95 win over the Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center clinched their first Pacific Division title in franchise history.

From Bob McAdoo and the Buffalo Braves to Bill Walton and the San Diego Clippers and Elton Brand and the Los Angeles Clippers, this often miserable franchise has always been an NBA stepchild.

Around for nearly a half century but never relevant, never elite and certainly never a champion, the Clippers needed the brilliance of Chris Paul, the explosion of Blake Griffin and a financial commitment from notoriously frugal owner Donald Sterling to achieve a title.

Paul toyed with the Lakers, scoring 24 points and delivering 12 assists.

Griffin had 24 points and 12 rebounds and punished the Lakers with two highlight dunks, the second preceding a 3-pointer in the closing two minutes that all but put the game away.

As big a win as it was the for the Clippers, it was equally devastating for the Lakers, who began the day just a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Kobe Bryant had 25 points and 10 assists for the Lakers. Dwight Howard added 25 points but only four rebounds.

Granted, Paul and the Clippers have a bigger goal ahead -- a prolonged playoff run and maybe a Western Conference championship -- but for one day they could bask in the achievement of accomplishing something never done before.

And in the process, the Clippers gave their long-suffering fans something to celebrate.

NOTES: As expected, Steve Nash missed his third straight game for the Lakers with hip and calf issues. Steve Blake started in his place. ... Blake is averaging 10.6 points in three games filling in for Nash and is shooting 50 percent on 3-pointers. ... Metta World Peace made an appearance at Lakers practice on Saturday and took some shots with his teammates. World Peace underwent left knee surgery last week for torn meniscus and the new timetable has him back within four to six weeks. ... There has been talk recently that the Clippers are suffering a chemistry issue and that Griffin, Paul and DeAndre Jordan aren't exactly seeing eye to eye. Jordan, in a tweet this week, disputed the claim and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro shot down reports there are issues. ... Chauncey Billups is still dealing with a groin issue, and though he did some shooting drills at practice on Saturday, he did not suit up.
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