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Crawford fills big shoes in Clippers win over Kings

The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO -- Jamal Crawford figured his plate would be pretty full Friday night, considering the man he considers to be the best point guard in the NBA was out of action.

But needing to make up for the absence of another top-flight guard? The Los Angeles Clippers' 14-year-veteran didn't see that one coming.

"Sometimes," he said in a quiet moment after the Clippers' 104-98 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on Friday, "you just have to adjust on the fly."

That, or let it fly. Crawford, running the point in place of injured teammate Chris Paul and scoring often from the outside after teammate J.J. Reddick left with a wrist injury, finished with game-high totals of 31 points and 11 assists, and the Clippers scored the final 10 points of overtime to win their fourth in a row.

They also beat the Kings for the third time without a loss this season and for the 12th time in 14 contests dating back to 2010-11. His nifty pass down low to forward Blake Griffin for a dunk with 2 minutes left in the extra period provided the 18th and final lead change. His 18-foot jumper on the Clippers' next possession gave them some cushion and climaxed Crawford's biggest-scoring night since he scored 34 against the Golden State Warriors on April 11, 2012.

"I was thinking on the way over to the arena about how I was going to need to run the offense, and make things flow," said Crawford, who has been a point guard during his career. "Then J.J. goes out at halftime. I was just trying to pick my spots."

DeAndre Jordan was just as much a force on the other end for Los Angeles, complementing his own 10 points and 15 rebounds with nine blocked shots and only one turnover while spending most of the night guarding Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento's leading scorer. Jordan was so good, Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers called it a "Bill Russell-like night."

Cousins, who is averaging 21.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, tallied 25 and nine, respectively, for Sacramento, which lost its third in a row. He scored at least 20 in eight of the Kings' 14 games.

"He's super-talented," Jordan said. "I just tried to play with length, and to box out when he missed a shot."

Forward John Salmons and guard Ben McLemore added 14 points each for the Kings, and forward Derrick Williams added 12 points and six rebounds in his Sacramento debut.

Griffin added 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, and guard Darren Collison, starting in place of Paul, had 15 points.

Paul was ruled out before the game started, with Rivers saying the Clippers want to be "more conservative than aggressive" in treating Paul's strained right hamstring. Paul said after the game he hopes to play Sunday against Indiana.

The Clippers lost Reddick late in the second quarter. The shooting guard fell hard on the court and banged his wrist on the floor. He said he played five or six possessions after the injury, but that it was too painful to continue. He finished with 13 points in 17 first-half minutes.

So Los Angeles turned to Crawford, who was a buzzsaw. He made 6 of 7 shots in a 13-point first half and connected on 9 of his first 12 overall. He also sank all four of this 3-pointers.

"I was thinking on the way over to the arena about how I was going to need to run the offense, and make things flow," said Crawford, who has been a point guard during his career. "Then J.J. goes out at halftime. I was just trying to pick my spots."

"I put this loss on me," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "I have to do a better job of not allowing one player like Jamal Crawford win the game for them. ... Our players need help from me, and I did a poor job of giving them a game plan to calm Jamal down. That was on me."

The Kings have lost the past seven times they've gone into overtime, including the past three times at home.

NOTES: With G Chris Paul out, G Darren Collison made his first start of the season for the Clippers. He averaged 5.9 points in 14.9 minutes per game off the bench in Los Angeles' first 16 games. ... Kings forward Derrick Williams made his first start of the season in his first appearance since being acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Luc Mbah a Moute on Nov. 26. ... Clippers F Blake Griffin needed 12 points entering the game to reach the 5,000-point plateau for his career. He was trying to become the 24th active player to reach that mark before the end of his fourth season. .... G Marcus Thornton, who did not play as a coach's decision in the previous four games, was the first man off the bench for Sacramento.

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