Paul leads Clippers to win vs. Kings

Rick Hurd, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SACRAMENTO -- A 15-point lead gone and their legs weary from playing their third game in three nights, the Los Angeles Clippers refused to buckle. Instead, they simply buckled down.
Chris Paul's 27-foot 3-pointer vaulted Los Angeles back in front, and his two free throws on the next possession kept his team there, and the Clippers escaped Sacramento with a 110-101 victory over the Kings on Friday.
Paul finished with 26 points and 10 assists, and teammate and fellow All-Star Blake Griffin added 20 points and 17 rebounds as Los Angeles (2-1) won for the second time in as many nights. The Clippers were coming off a 126-115 win over the Golden State Warriors in their home opener Thursday.
The Clippers finished with an 18-8 kick after the Kings (1-1) erased a 66-51 third-quarter deficit.
"We're certainly not going to get flustered in that situation," Paul said. "We've got a lot of guys who've been around, and who know that we have to do is execute, and I take a lot of responsibility in trying to make sure that's what happens."
Isaiah Thomas led the Kings with 29 points and made all three of his 3-pointers en route to a 9-for-13 shooting night from the field. But he also made a costly turnover with the Kings down 104-99 and coming out of a timeout.
"We fought, we fought hard out there," Thomas said. "They're a good basketball team, a real experienced team. They know how to win."
DeMarcus Cousins had 24 points and 10 rebounds for Sacramento, his second straight double-double to begin the season. He also picked up his first technical foul -- he led the NBA with 17 last season -- after refs determined he taunted Paul after a blocked shot in the fourth quarter.
Marcus Thornton added 17 points for the Kings.
Jamal Crawford had 18 points for Los Angeles and made three 3-pointers to move ahead of Tim Hardaway into 15th place on the NBA's career list. His last one, coming out of a Los Angeles timeout, momentarily stopped Sacramento's momentum after the Kings used a 23-10 run to cut into the 15-point deficit.
"They scored easily on us, uncontested jump shot after uncontested jump shot," Kings coach Michael Malone said. "We got back in the game when we finally started making people feel us out there."
The Kings continued to claw back after Crawford's shot, and went ahead 92-90 when Thomas found Thompson with a no-look pass for a dunk with 6:43 to go. But Paul hit his 3-pointer and the two free-throws, and the Clippers scored on three straight possessions to pull away.
"We found a play down the stretch, and instead of tinkering with it, we started with the exact same play and we scored three times in a row," Rivers said. "That's great recognition by Chris and J.J., all the guys."
The Clippers, playing for the second straight night and third time in four nights to start the season, appeared to be the fresher team and shot an even 50 percent from the field. Griffin played 17 straight minutes at one point, but Rivers also went deep to his bench with center DeAndre Jordan plagued with foul trouble.
NOTES: Sacramento owns the NBA's longest current winning streak in home openers. Their 90-88 victory over Denver was their 13th straight season-opening home win, extending their NBA record. ... DeMarcus Cousins' 30-point night in Sacramento's opener tied Rodney McCray for the third-biggest scoring output by a King in an opener. ... Paul's 15-point, 11-assist, five-steal game against Golden State on Thursday made him only the second player in NBA history to record at least those totals in one game more than once. John Stockton did it six times for the Utah Jazz. Maurice Cheeks was the only other player to have consecutive games with those totals at least once. ... Malone said that with Greivis Vasquez and Thomas expected to share significant minutes, guard Jimmer Fredette will not be part of the guard rotation in the immediate future. Fredette averaged 14 minutes in 69 games last season but did not play in the opener. ... The Sacramento Bee reported that the Kings will not pick up Fredette's contract option at the end of the year, making the third-year guard a free agent at the end of the season.

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