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Without Griffin, Paul, Clippers fall, 98-90, to Wizards
WASHINGTON — Martell Webster scored 21 points, and the Washington Wizards broke a four-game losing streak Monday night with a 98-90 win over a Los Angeles Clippers team missing Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
With Griffin nursing a strained left hamstring and Paul still dealing with a bruised right kneecap, the Wizards pulled away with a 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter, spurred by a pair of big offensive rebounds by Nene.
Nene grabbed a crazy, deflected bounce off of his own missed free throw to set up a 3-pointer by Trevor Ariza, then corralled another offensive board on the next possession and fed Garrett Temple for a jump shot that gave the Wizards an 87-79 lead.
Nene and Temple scored 15 points apiece, Emeka Okafor grabbed 14 rebounds, and John Wall had 13 points and eight assists for the Wizards, who entered the game tied with the Charlotte Bobcats for the worst record in the NBA.
Jamal Crawford scored 28 points, and DeAndre Jordan had a career-high 22 rebounds for the Clippers. Eric Bledsoe, generally getting the better of Wall in a duel between former Kentucky teammates, had 17 points and nine assists for the Clippers, who have lost seven of nine — including six of eight without Paul. Los Angeles is 1-3 halfway through an eight-game road trip.
Griffin was scratched minutes before tipoff, ending a streak of 197 consecutive games played. He'd started every game since he essentially became an NBA player at the start of the 2010 season, having sat out in 2009-10 with a knee injury after he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Clippers.
Paul missed his eighth consecutive game and 11th of the last 13 with a bruised right kneecap.
Wall dribbled down the clock and made a 12-footer over Bledsoe at the end of the first half, and the Wizards opened the second half with a 7-0 run to take a 12-point lead.
But Bledsoe scored five points in an 11-0 Clippers spurt to make it a one-point game. Shortly afterward, Bledsoe made a jumper to give Los Angeles its first lead since the first quarter and then provided one of the highlights of the night — a clean block-from-behind on Webster as the Wizards forward was going up for a likely layup.
The Wizards started their decisive run with about 5½ minutes to play, capitalizing on Nene's rebounds and the Clippers' turnovers. Los Angeles committed eight of its 20 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Notes: The Wizards snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Clippers. ... Washington played its fourth consecutive game without rookie G Bradley Beal (sprained right wrist). ... Before the game, Washington coach Randy Wittman blamed human nature for his team's spells of selfish play. "You feel good about yourself," Wittman said. "And maybe lose sight of why you're feeling good about yourself." ... Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said he hopes to have both Paul and Chauncey Billups (left foot) back before the end of the road trip. He said Billups is on pace to return before Paul. "That's the plan right now," Del Negro said. "But a lot of the plans haven't worked out the way we wanted with some of the injuries."
By Tammy Bruce
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