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Warriors-Clippers Preview

AP - Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers haven't needed many points from Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to get off to their best start in five years.

The Golden State Warriors probably need more from top returning scorer David Lee to string together wins, especially now that key reserve Brandon Rush is done for the season.

These Pacific Division rivals split four meetings last season, and the Clippers will look to improve to 3-0 in Saturday night's matchup at Staples Center.

Los Angeles has opened with consecutive victories for the first time since its 4-0 start in 2007-08. Griffin and Paul combined to average more than 40 points a season ago, but they have combined for 56 points so far.

Reserve Jamal Crawford has scored nearly that many on his own. The new Clippers guard has 50, including a team-high 21 in Friday's 105-95 win over the Lakers.

"We're getting better as a team," Griffin said. "It's a great win for us, because they're a great team and they're in our division."

Lee was one of 12 players in the league last season to average more than 20 points at 20.1, but he's off to a slow start with 11.0 points per game on 34.5 percent shooting.

Rush played well in the Warriors' season-opening win at Phoenix with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but he injured his left knee in a scary fall Friday in a 104-94 loss to Memphis in the home opener. An MRI Saturday revealed a torn ACL, a big blow that will require season-ending surgery.

Golden State (1-1) went down 14 points following the injury, then took the lead with a 15-0 run before the Grizzlies took control in the second half.

"I think that took a little bit out of us just because this is a tight-knit group and we know how big of a year this is for him," coach Mark Jackson said. "Just an unfortunate break but we will move on."

While Rush's absence depletes the Warriors' bench, the Clippers' reserves - led by Crawford - have shined with 95 points in two games. That has helped Paul to be a distributor with 27 assists.

"We got some timely shots from our bench, and they stepped up for us," Paul said Friday.

Paul averaged 23.8 points and Griffin 22.5 last season against Golden State, which had Monta Ellis - now with Milwaukee - in its two victories. Lee averaged 21.0 points and 11.7 boards in three meetings.

Defending Griffin on Saturday may be difficult without center Andrew Bogut, who is expected to sit out since the Warriors do not want him to play on back-to-back nights due to his ankle problems. Bogut's minutes are already being limited and he logged 18 on Friday and had four points and three rebounds.

"I can't stress enough what he means a lot to this organization and it's not about him playing tonight, it's about him being able to play over the long haul," Jackson said.

First-round pick Festus Ezeli is expected to get his first start Saturday.

Stephen Curry had 26 points and seven assists Friday and reserve Carl Landry added 20 points.

"We battled, we competed against a very good basketball team, a lot of positive things out of it and now we'll look forward to tomorrow night," Jackson said.

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