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Kings clamp down on Clippers, pull upset

The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings managed to overshadow their 38-point, fourth-quarter output Tuesday.

A strong Sacramento defensive effort limited the high-scoring Los Angeles Clippers to 18 points in the final quarter, and the Kings emerged with a 116-101 win.

Sacramento held the Clippers to 36 percent shooting and five turnovers during the decisive period, dropping Los Angeles into a tie for third place in the Western Conference with the idle Memphis Grizzlies.

"We're not playing well enough right now," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We're not guarding hard enough right now. We're not physically and mentally tough enough, especially when we have to be, in the fourth quarter, and that's definitely a concern."

Kings reserve guard Toney Douglas got the job done on each end of the floor, particularly during the fourth quarter, when he scored 17 of his 19 points and also helped slow Clippers point guard Chris Paul.

Paul shot just 2-for-10 from the field and committed seven turnovers. He finished with 11 points and 15 assists.

Kings coach Keith Smart enjoyed the varied contributions he received from his players.

"We could give up some highlight dunks and some 3s, but we hoped that over the course of the game, our guys could wear them down," Smart said. "(Tuesday) was our night. We had everybody contributing, and there were some great plays made. Toney Douglas did great with the point-of-attack defense.

"Isaiah Thomas set the tone of the defense early on, then Douglas did a great job for the rest of the game. He pressured the ball up the floor. I thought our guys did a great job, with the emphasis on out weak-side awareness."

Paul said his team's intensity was lacking.

"I just think we have to pick it up," the All-Star Game MVP said. "We've got to pay more attention to detail. I think it starts on the ball with me. I've got to contain the ball better."

Douglas made each of four 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter, including a double-pump attempt from 29 feet with the shot clock running out.

"I was happy to make that, but I'd have been happy if anybody had made it," Douglas said. "The important thing was the defense we played. Everybody had each other's back."

The Clippers (46-22) are locked in a three-way battle for Western Conference playoff seeding with the Grizzlies (45-21) and Denver Nuggets (47-22). The Nuggets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-104 Tuesday for their 13th consecutive win.

The Clippers now have the fifth-best record in the Conference, but they are unlikely to fall below the No. 4 seed because they are cruising to the Pacific Division title. All division winners are guaranteed one of the top four seeds.

The Kings (24-44) were led in scoring by reserve guards Marcus Thornton (25 points) and Douglas (19). DeMarcus Cousins had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Tyreke Evans added 17 points.

The Clippers got just 38 points off their bench, 25 of them by Jamal Crawford. Sacramento's reserves scored 62 points.

Blake Griffin scored a game-high 26 point for Los Angeles, and Caron Butler added 13.

The teams exchanged grabs, bangs and leads throughout the contest.

The Kings opened the fourth quarter with a 13-3 run to take a 91-86 lead. However, the Clippers answered with a quick run fueled by a couple of Kings turnovers to tie the game at 96-96.

Smart then began ordering his players to foul Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, a 41 percent free-throw shooter. Jordan missed three of four attempts and subsequently was replaced on the floor by Butler.

The Kings took off from that point.

NOTES: Clippers backup point guard Eric Bledsoe missed his fourth straight game with a left calf injury. ... Entering play Tuesday, the Clippers led the league in steals per game at 9.73. They had 10 steals against the Kings. ... Since the All-Star break, the Kings are ranked first in points per game at 110.2. ... The Kings entered the game having committed just 11 turnovers in the previous two games. It was also the first time they had six of fewer turnovers in consecutive games. Sacramento gave the ball away 17 times Tuesday. ... Smart on troubled center DeMarcus Cousins: "He's a good young man. We have a lot of talks. It's when the conversation starts to boil. I can't get the lid on the pot fast enough sometimes. He's a very, very competitive person. Obviously, it's well-documented that he's trying to grow out of some issues he has in terms of what he does at times and what he shouldn't do. Hopefully, that day comes when we look back and say, 'We had to go through all of this to get to this point.'"
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