76ers-Clippers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers were hoping to hold their own after Chris Paul separated his shoulder last month. Blake Griffin helped make sure they accomplished that goal.

Griffin will try to continue his historic stretch with his All-Star point guard expected to return against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.

While the Clippers (35-18) rank second in the NBA with 106.4 points per game and in the top 10 with a 46.9 field-goal percentage, they've been even more productive with a scoring average of 108.9 on 47.9 percent shooting in 18 games without Paul.

Griffin has been playing some of the best basketball of his career since Paul was hurt Jan. 3, scoring 27.5 per game on 55.4 percent shooting. He went 13 of 18 on the way to 36 points, and DeAndre Jordan had 18 and 13 boards in Friday's 118-105 home win over Toronto.

The All-Star forward became the first player in franchise history with three consecutive 30-point games, averaging 38.3 in those contests. He scored 43 in a 116-112 loss to two-time defending champion Miami on Wednesday.

"I expected greatness, but Blake's done some things we didn't know he could do," coach Doc Rivers said. "Clearly, we're taking advantage of him in the open court with the ball. And he'll be even better when Chris comes back."

Though they've played well with a 12-6 record, the Clippers have dropped three of their last five games and also lost to San Antonio, Indiana and Golden State with their star playmaker sidelined.

"We've had a nice run, but let's be honest, against the good teams we haven't without Chris, so (getting him back) helps," Rivers told the team's official website.

With Paul returning to the lineup, the Pacific Division leaders are hoping to build on their scoring surge. Rivers, however, said that might not happen right away even though the point guard "looked great" in Saturday's workout.

"I think it's going to take time for Chris to get his rhythm back," he said. "So, that's way I'm hoping he is healthy and we can play him Sunday, have a practice Tuesday and play him Wednesday."

Paul, averaging 19.6 points and a league-high 11.2 assists, had 25 points and 13 assists to lead Los Angeles to a 94-83 victory at Philadelphia on Dec. 9. Griffin added 26 points and Jordan pulled down 21 rebounds.

Philadelphia's Evan Turner finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Thaddeus Young had 16 points and 11 boards in that contest. The 76ers, though, shot 35.9 percent - including 3 for 21 from 3-point range - while playing without rookie of the year candidate Michael Carter-Williams due to right knee soreness.

Philadelphia (15-36) enters this matchup with the high-scoring Clippers looking to snap a five-game losing streak with its fourth win in 19 games. That's likely to be a difficult challenge for the 76ers, who are allowing an NBA-worst 110.0 points per game.

They've surrendered an average of 114.4 during their current skid following a 112-98 home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Tony Wroten scored 16, while Turner and Spencer Hawes each had 15 as Philadelphia dropped its seventh straight at home.

"It appears we play better on the road," said coach Brett Brown, whose club is 8-18 at home and 7-18 on the road.

The Clippers, who are 21-4 at Staples Center, also could be getting J.J. Redick (sore right hip) and Hedo Turkoglu (right knee contusion) back in this contest.

They've won the last four meetings in this series.

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