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Paul strong as Clippers blow out 76ers

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Associated Press
3/21/2013 1:35:07 AM
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers fell into an eight-point hole to start the game, then dug themselves out with a defensive effort that involved contributions from just about everyone.

Chris Paul scored 19 points, Caron Butler added 14 and the Clippers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 101-72 on Wednesday, bouncing back on the second night of back-to-back games.

Paul also had nine assists and six rebounds while Blake Griffin had a relatively quiet showing with seven points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Clippers were without Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe, both sidelined by injuries.

"You got to stay calm and fight our way back in and we did that," Griffin said. "We had a big letdown yesterday so to have a bounceback like this in a back-to-back, it's a good win."

Los Angeles improved to 27-8 at home after losing four of its previous seven, including a 116-101 setback at Sacramento on Tuesday night. The Clippers won three in a row against Philadelphia for the first time since 2006-07.

Spencer Hawes had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the 76ers, who have dropped 14 in a row on the road, where they are 6-24 this season. Thaddeus Young added 13 points and Evan Turner finished with 12, but All-Star Jrue Holiday was held to two points on 1-of-8 shooting.

"They got us turning it over and got some easy baskets," Hawes said. "I thought we defended them well when we weren't turning it over early, when we were in the half-court. When they get out in transition, they're as dangerous as any team in the league."

The 76ers had 19 turnovers that led to 24 points by the Clippers.

"We were hanging around for a while, but turnovers were really the deciding factor," 76ers coach Doug Collins said. "Their defence was tremendous. They really do a great job trapping Jrue. They're not going to let him get any shot opportunities and they're going to try and get the ball out of his hands."

The Clippers dominated after halftime, building a 66-46 lead midway through the third. Paul, Butler and Willie Green scored six points apiece in a 20-10 run that opened the quarter. Griffin set up DeAndre Jordan for an alley-oop dunk in the spurt.

"The third quarter was Chris Paul," said Jamal Crawford, who had 12 points on his 33rd birthday. "I thought he was unbelievable picking up the tempo and we just followed his lead. We put our foot on the gas and didn't let up."

The 76ers answered with 10 straight points of their own, but couldn't erase their double-digit deficit.

The Clippers' starters got plenty of rest in the fourth, watching the reserves stretch the lead to 89-62 on a dunk by Ryan Hollins as the sellout crowd of 19,187 began hitting the exits. Hollins finished with 10 points.

"The second unit did an outstanding job not maintaining the pace, but picking up the pace," Paul said. "In the second quarter was where our defence really picked it up. Our aggressive mentality helped us and our energy was great."

The Clippers turned an eight-point deficit in the first quarter into a 10-point lead by halftime. They scored the first eight points of the second quarter, and Maalik Wayns and Crawford hit back-to-back 3-pointers later in the period. Griffin made his first basket of the game late in the second, helping the Clippers outscore the 76ers 10-3 to end the half ahead 46-36.

Los Angeles missed its first five shots and trailed by eight in the first, when neither team shot better than 36 per cent.

NOTES: Billups sat out with a strained right groin. Bledsoe has a sore left calf and F Ronny Turiaf has a sore right knee. ... The 76ers opened a four-game trip playing the first of a back-to-back. They're at Denver on Thursday night. ... A section of fans near the Philadelphia bench shouted "We want Nick Young" in the fourth quarter. The L.A. native hid his laughter and eventually scored six points in nine minutes. "That's the love I feel being back home," he said. ... The 76ers said C Andrew Bynum will start physical therapy on Friday, three days after having bilateral arthroscopic knee surgery for injuries that have kept him out the entire season. He won't put any weight on his knees for about three weeks, then he'll spend another three weeks on crutches. "We had great expectations of this season and it was unfortunate Andrew was never healthy enough to play," said 76ers coach Doug Collins, who exchanged texts with Bynum after the surgery in New York. "I think he feels good about the procedure. He wanted to play and he was very excited about being in Philadelphia."

Chris Paul (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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