Wizards-Clippers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 19, 2013
While they weren't completely satisfied with their latest performance, the Los Angeles Clippers managed to win again in spite of Chris Paul's absence. The Clippers would love to have their All-Star point guard back for their brief return home, a matchup with the suddenly surging Washington Wizards on Saturday night. Paul has missed the past three games with a bruised right kneecap, but Los Angeles (31-9) has won all of those contests by an average of 15.7 points. The Clippers committed 18 turnovers for the second consecutive game Thursday in Minnesota but completed a 3-0 road trip with a 90-77 victory. Jamal Crawford scored a team-best 22 points off the bench, giving him 52 in the last two games. Blake Griffin, named an All-Star starter along with Paul earlier Thursday, contributed 20 points. "Guys have been hurt and out, and other guys have stepped up," Crawford said. "I think that's a credit to our coaching staff keeping us prepared and a credit to our team for being professionals and staying ready." The Clippers, winners in 17 of 19 at home, have prevailed in seven straight over Washington. Los Angeles won last season's two matchups by an average of 22.0 points, including a 102-84 home win Feb. 15. Griffin had 23 points and 15 rebounds in that game while former Wizard Caron Butler was also among six Clippers players in double figures with 21 points. Butler had 12 points Thursday - his most in his last eight games - despite dealing with a sore right foot. "We should come into every arena feeling we should get the W," said Butler, whose team will play 11 of its next 14 on the road. "That's not being cocky or overconfident. That's having enough confidence in our ability and ourselves and the personnel we have out there and the system that we run." Despite their recent dominance in the series, the Clippers might not want to overlook the Wizards, who have won four of five. Washington (8-29) had one victory in its first 17 road games this season before winning 112-108 on Friday at Denver, a team that's now 15-3 at home. Bradley Beal had a team-best 23 points and the Wizards got a combined 46 from reserves Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Ariza and the still-recovering John Wall. Wall had 14 points and a season-high 12 assists, also blocking Ty Lawson's attempt at a tying layup in the final seconds in his fourth game since returning from a stress injury to his left kneecap. Jordan Crawford had eight points in 17 minutes following a four-game absence due to a sore left ankle. "We played the game that we wanted to play tonight against a very good team," coach Randy Wittman said. Wall is averaging 22.3 points, 9.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds in four all-time games against the Clippers, but he was just 4 of 13 from the field in last season's visit to Los Angeles. He finished with 18 points, 12 assists and five turnovers in that defeat. Griffin is averaging 25.8 points on 60.0 percent shooting in his four career matchups with Washington.
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