Clippers 94, Wizards 87

Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers survived a poor shooting night to defeat the visiting Washington Wizards 94-87 on Sunday night at Staples Center.
Los Angeles broke the game open late in the second quarter, leading by as much as 12, but Washington fought back to one with less than two minutes left before the Clippers closed out the win as Chris Paul took over.
Paul drained an 18-foot jumper with 33 seconds left then hit two free throws with 8.9 seconds left as Los Angeles kept Washington at arm's length.
The Clippers won their fourth straight game despite hitting just 34 of 93 shots (37 percent) from the field -- the team's worst shooting in a win this season -- and 21 of 31 from the free-throw line.
A big rebounding advantage -- 58 to 43 -- helped Los Angeles fend off a feisty Wizards squad that had won four of five games entering the contest. Aided by the extra possessions on the glass, including 22 offensive rebounds, and from 17 Washington turnovers, the Clippers managed 16 more shot attempts than the Wizards.
Not that they did much with them.
Returning from a three-game absence because of a knee injury, Paul hit just 6 of 16 shots but went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line and led the team with 22 points and 11 assists. Blake Griffin added 17 points and 11 rebounds but made just 5 of 18 shots. Eric Bledsoe, who performed admirably in the starting lineup in Paul's absence, added 11 points off the bench.
John Wall had 24 points off the bench to lead the Wizards, who also struggled from the field, shooting just 32 of 77 (42 percent). Bradley Beal had 13 points for Washington and Nene Hilario added 12 points and seven rebounds.
NOTES: Chris Paul was considered a game-time decision with his knee injury but played for the first time since the Clippers' 104-101 loss to Orlando on Jan. 12. His three-game absence marked the first games he's missed since April 26, 2012, when he sat out a 99-93 loss to the Knicks with a strained groin. He missed six games total last year, his first with the Clippers. ... Chauncey Billups (left foot peroneal tendinitis) and Trey Thompkins (left knee bone bruise) were out for Los Angeles. ... Cartier Martin (hyperextended left knee) missed the game for the Wizards. ... Bradley Beal came into the game on fire, hitting 53 percent from the field and 68 percent from 3-point range while averaging 20.8 points over his previous five games. Beal won Eastern Conference rookie of the month honors in December after averaging 13.4 points per game. ... The Clippers won the season series between the two teams last year, 2-0, taking both games just 11 days apart in early-mid February.

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