Warriors knock Clippers out of first place

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 12, 2012
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Dorell Wright scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half, Monta Ellis added 19 points and 11 assists, and the Golden State Warriors knocked the Los Angeles Clippers out of first place in the Pacific Division with a 97-93 victory Sunday night. David Lee had 18 points and 10 rebounds after spending most of the game in foul trouble, helping the Warriors beat the Clippers on the road for the fourth consecutive time despite blowing a 21-point third-quarter lead. Stephen Curry, a game-time decision due to a mildly sprained right ankle, was in the starting lineup and missed three shots before going to the bench with 5:53 left in the first quarter. He played 10 scoreless minutes. Blake Griffin had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who missed 16 of 35 free throws. The loss, coupled with the Lakers' 97-94 victory over the Boston Celtics a few hours earlier in the first half of the Staples Center doubleheader, put the Clippers a full game behind their LA rivals in the race for the Pacific Division lead and homecourt advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. Clippers All-Star guard Chris Paul, who tied a season high with 36 points in Friday night's 120-108 win at San Antonio despite suffering a nasal fracture in the first quarter, went the Kobe Bryant route and wore a clear protective facemask against the Warriors. He finished with 23 points and five assists. Mo Williams, whose season-high 33 points against the Spurs helped snap the Clippers' string of 17 consecutive losses at San Antonio, missed his first seven shots in 25 scoreless minutes before ending the drought with a 3-pointer from the top of the key that sliced the Warriors' lead to 83-81 with 5:38 to play. Griffin, who missed eight of 15 from the line, converted Eric Bledsoe's inbounds pass from the baseline into a dunk that tied the score at 83 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining. But they weren't able to pull ahead. The Warriors regained the lead on Ellis' driving reverse layup with 3 minutes to go, and Brandon Rush added a midair dunk off an offensive rebound before Lee, who picked up his fifth foul 56 seconds into the final quarter, added a twisting layup with 1:27 left. Ellis, who scored 32 points against the Clippers in a 104-97 win on Feb. 20 at Oakland, quieted the sellout crowd momentarily by hitting a fadeaway 16-footer with 12.6 seconds left in the third quarter after Los Angeles sliced a 21-point deficit to 76-64 with a 9-0 run capped by Randy Foye's 3-pointer. The Clippers began a six-game homestand by making only six of 22 shots in the first quarter, while the Warriors jumped out to a 28-16 lead with 16 points by Wright - including four 3-pointers and an alley-oop dunk off a lob from Ellis. Wright, an eight-year veteran who was born in Los Angeles, came in averaging 9.5 points in his 36 previous starts this season. The Clippers trailed 55-42 at intermission after missing 11 of 23 free throws - including an air ball by DeAndre Jordan. Rookie Klay Thompson and Rush hit 3-pointers at both ends of a 10-2 spurt that extended Golden State's lead to 14. Notes: Wright was the 19th overall pick in the 2004 draft. He signed with the Warriors as a free agent in July 2010 after six seasons with the Miami Heat, averaging 16.4 points in 82 starts while leading the league in 3-pointers (194) and attempts (516). ... Trailing 67-50, the Clippers received an unconventional technical foul for having six players on the court. ... The Clippers (23-16) are 8-9 since starting G Chauncey Billups suffered a torn left Achilles tendon that ended his season. ... Jordan has 15 points, 22 rebounds and 10 blocked shots in 82 minutes during the Clippers' three meetings with Golden State - including a career-high eight blocks in 105-86 win over the Warriors on opening night at Oakland. The Warriors signed him to the restricted free agent to an offer sheet on Dec. 11, and the Clippers matched it the following day. ... Warriors C Ekpe Udoh rejected a layup by Griffin late in the first quarter, extending his streak to 16 straight games with at least one blocked shot. ... Paul extended his consecutive-game streak with at least one steal to 43. ... The Clippers are 0-4 at home when trailing after three quarters, compared to 4-11 on the road. ... Clippers reserve F Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game with sore ribs.
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