Griffin leads Clippers past Kings for eighth win in nine

The Associated Press
4/8/2012 1:33:31 AM
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LOS ANGELES -- Blake Griffin doesn't care whether DeMarcus Cousins thinks he's just an actor, although Griffin did hear about Cousins' criticism from his acting coach.

Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers have bigger aspirations than answering the Sacramento forward's taunts, although Griffin made sure Cousins remembers where he stands in this California rivalry.

Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds, Randy Foye scored 25 points while hitting seven 3-pointers, and the surging Clippers moved within a half-game of the Pacific Division lead with a 109-94 victory over the Kings on Saturday night.

Cousins and Griffin exchanged a perfunctory pregame fist-bump and nothing else after their burgeoning feud commanded national headlines in recent days. Cousins was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Friday for criticizing officials -- specifically for the way they call games featuring Griffin, the former No. 1 draft pick and electrifying dunker.

"I mean this in the nicest possible way, you have to consider the source," Griffin said. "If this is somebody that really has been in this league a long time and really knows the ins and outs of the game, and he ... has a great reputation for carrying himself the right way, that's something that I would look at and go, 'I really rubbed this guy the wrong way.' But something like that, you just keep going."

After struggling with foul trouble throughout Sacramento's home loss to the Clippers on Thursday night, Cousins said the NBA's 11th-leading scorer and sixth-leading rebounder was an "actor" who should be at home in Hollywood, claiming referees treat the two-time All-Star differently.

Griffin did little acting in the Clippers' eighth win in nine games overall and their second in three days over the Kings, sweeping the season series. He did make another boatload of rim-rocking dunks and an over-the-shoulder circus shot that didn't count, but will live on indefinitely in highlight reels.

"I'm trying to stay low and just sticking to playing basketball," said Cousins, who had 15 points and 20 rebounds. "I'm in enough trouble as it is. ... It's not a (personal) rivalry. We're just playing ball. They're a playoff team and we're not, so it's not much of a rivalry."

Chris Paul had 19 points and 15 assists as the Clippers (34-22) moved right behind the Lakers (35-22), who lost at Phoenix, for the division lead and the No. 3 playoff seed.

Tyreke Evans and Travis Outlaw scored 14 points apiece and Francisco Garcia added 13 for the Kings, who have lost eight of 10.

"For all that people say about Cousins, he did hold his composure and just played basketball," Sacramento coach Keith Smart said. "It's always going to be difficult when you go from your place after dropping one and then go to their place and play on their floor. You've got to play a perfect game, so this is good training and teaching for our guys."

Caron Butler scored 12 points for the Clippers, who never trailed after the opening minutes. While Paul and Griffin had their usual productive games, Foye had another spectacular perimeter performance after tying the franchise record with eight 3-pointers at Dallas last Monday.

"Blake and CP draw a lot of attention, so all you've really got to do is knock down a 3 or go to the basket," Foye said. "They made a couple of runs, but it was important to get this win before we go out on the road again."

After allowing their 14-point lead to dwindle to one late in the third quarter, the Clippers took control with a 20-7 run capped by another visit to Lob City. After Griffin reached well behind his head to grab an alley-oop pass from Eric Bledsoe for a one-handed slam, the 6-foot-1 Bledsoe added his own dunk on a pass off the backboard from Paul.

Bledsoe had eight points and nine assists for the Clippers, who scored 34 points in less than eight minutes in the fourth quarter.

Griffin made one of the most spectacular shots of his highlight-strewn career late in the third quarter when Donte Greene flagrantly fouled him to stop a breakaway chance. Griffin threw the ball backward over his opposite shoulder while spinning facedown to the floor and facing away from the hoop -- and the shot went in, but didn't count when the officials huddled and ruled against continuation.

Marcus Thornton, the Kings' leading scorer, missed his third straight game with a bruised left leg. Garcia went to the locker room early in the fourth after staying down on the court for several minutes when Bobby Simmons accidentally clipped him in the head while fighting for a loose ball. Smart got a technical foul for complaining about the collision, but Garcia appeared to be fine after the game.

NOTES: The Clippers' only loss since March 22 was last Wednesday to the Lakers, who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker edge. ... Clippers G Mo Williams sat out his ninth straight game with a bruised toe. His return is expected imminently. ... Kings F Chuck Hayes sat out with the latest in a series of apparent cases of food poisoning for the Kings. "I'm going to start cooking for this team and keep it real simple: plain paste, chicken breasts, and that's it," Smart said.

Blake Griffin (Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)


(Photo: Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
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