Clippers easily defeat Kings at home

Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Behind a concentrated team effort, the Los Angeles Clippers easily handled the visiting Sacramento Kings on Saturday night, 116-81, at Staples Center.
Seven Clippers scored in double-figures, but none more than reserve guard Jamal Crawford's 17 points as Los Angeles head coach Vinny Del Negro emptied out the bench. Ten Clippers played between 17 and 29 minutes, and Los Angeles never let Sacramento back into the game after building a big early lead.
"I said to the guys, I've never played on an Olympic team, but it seems like that's how this is," Crawford said. "Very balanced, guys really unselfish. We have to do it by committee and that's what we do."
The Clippers (10-6) won for the second consecutive game after a surprising home loss to New Orleans on Nov. 26, while Sacramento has lost three straight and 12 of 16 games to open the season.
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe each had 14 points for the Clippers, who shot 55 percent from the field while holding the Kings to just 38 percent shooting.
Worse for Sacramento, Los Angeles committed just five turnovers -- including one by its starting lineup -- while forcing 17 by the Kings.
"Our defense gave us easy baskets," Crawford said. "We could get out and run. That's when the ball finds its energy; then the ball dictates who is scoring. That's when it's fun."
Marcus Thornton had 20 points to lead Sacramento, Jason Thompson added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Isaiah Thomas had 14 points off the bench.
One thing that pointed to the strength of the Clippers' balance and depth: Los Angeles claimed a 58-34 halftime advantage without a single player scoring in double figures.
The Clippers took a 17-6 lead midway through the first quarter and continued to apply the pressure, increasing the lead to 22 with just less than seven minutes left in the second quarter.
By then, 10 Clippers had scored and Los Angeles had already made 19 of 34 shots.
"When our first unit comes out and plays the way we did in the first quarter, gives us a lead, and the second unit comes out and plays the way they play every night, we're tough to beat," Jordan said. "If we all come out with the intensity we did tonight, we're going to be fine."
Jordan finished with nine points in the first half, including a rebound tip-in as the first half was about to end, and Griffin added eight points for the Clippers, who committed just four first-half turnovers.
Los Angeles was able to build its big early lead without the help of Paul for much of the first half, as he picked up his second foul less than seven minutes into the game. Then Crawford and Bledsoe took over.
"They've got a lot of guys over there who can make up a lot of ground when Chris is not in there," Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. "Guys who can cover for him. Jamal Crawford can carry a team by himself. It just goes down the line for those guys."
Thompson had nine points at the half to lead Sacramento, which shot just 13 of 39 from the field in the first two quarters.
"The starters got us off to that good start and everybody fed off that," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Our bench came in and the ball moved and we didn't turn it over."
NOTES: Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans, listed as questionable before the game, missed the contest with a bruised left knee. ... Even without Evans, Sacramento guard Jimmer Fredette, whose minutes have been wildly inconsistent, did not play in the first half after getting almost 18 minutes in a 97-92 loss to Indiana on Friday. He finished with almost 16 minutes of playing time in the second half, but went 0-for-6 from the field and finished with one point. Fredette had a season-high 18 points in his last appearance at Staples Center in a 103-90 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 11. ... Los Angeles swept the season series between the two teams last season, 3-0.

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