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Clippers Doing Just Fine Without Chris Paul

The Los Angeles Clippers had reason to worry after Saturday’s loss to the Orlando Magic. They had just lost at home for the first time since Thanksgiving weekend. They had just lost to a team on a 10 game losing streak. And they lost their superstar point guard Chris Paul to a bruised knee. Add all that to the fact that they were about to hit a stretch of 15 road games out of the next 19 and one could see where things could get ugly. But so far so good for the Clippers. On Monday they whipped the Memphis Grizzlies 99-73. They held the Grizzlies to their lowest point total all season and got great minutes form Eric Bledsoe at the point in Paul’s absence.

Then on Tuesday they went to face the very talented and high scoring Houston Rockets. The Rockets are one of few teams that don’t mind the fast paced game the Clippers like to play. But having to travel and being without Paul again did not seem to bother them as they beat the Rockets 117-109. The Clippers trailed by one point at the half but came out in the third quarter and dominated. By the start of the fourth quarter L.A. was up 13 at 90-77. They got 16 apiece from Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford off the bench on Monday against Memphis and then Crawford led them with 30 points while Barnes kicked in 18 against the Rockets. The Clippers bench could replace another team’s starting five and make the playoffs.

Their arena mates, the Los Angeles Lakers seem to be doing well since adopting their new strategy of putting Kobe Bryant on the opposite team’s best offensive player. Of course it probably helps that Dwight Howard is back in the lineup after missing several games with a torn labrum. The Lakers have won two in a row to improve to 17-21 on the season.

On Sunday night, the Lakers beat the Cavaliers by 20 points in a 113-93 win. Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds in that game while Bryant held Kyrie Irving to 15 points. Then on Tuesday night, they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 104-88 with Bryant guarding Brandon Jennings and holding him to 12 points while scoring 31. Howard also had another big night with 31 points and 16 rebounds.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are still rolling right along at an NBA best 30-8. The Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers 87-83 on Sunday behind Kevin Durant with 18 points and Russell Westbrook with 18 points. They also got 11 from a new source in Deandre Liggins. The Thunder won in a tough place to get a road win as they snapped Portland’s nine game home winning streak to win their third game in a row.

The next night, they went to Arizona and beat the Phoenix Suns 102-90 for their fourth win in a row. Durant again led the Thunder with 41 points and Westbrook kicked in 36 as they took control of a close game in the fourth quarter. Durant had 19 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder outscored the Suns 30-22 in the final period.

The Blazers are having a tough week as they not only lost on Sunday in a close one to the Thunder, they lost a thriller to a very tough Denver Nuggets squad 115-111 in overtime. Danilo Galinari led the Nuggets with 25 points, Ty Lawson added 24 and Kennneth Faried chipped in 21 as the Nuggets went to 24-16 while Portland fell to 20-18.

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