- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Clippers forward Blake Griffin praised the way Los Angeles finished off a 10-day trip that closed with games on the shores of lakes Erie and Pontchartrain on back-to-back nights.

Griffin had 27 points and 10 rebounds, Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists, and the Clippers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 114-96 on Friday night.

The dominant effort came one night after an equally convincing 113-94 triumph at Cleveland on Thursday night - with a flight from the United States’ northern border to the Gulf Coast in between, touching down in the Big Easy around 2 a.m. local time.

“It’s tough, but the end of a road trip can go one of two ways,” Griffin said. “You can either be like, ‘All right, let’s finish this out on a good note and get home and get this over with,’ or you can completely lose focus and come in and not play the way you want, and I thought we did the first.”

Jamal Crawford scored 21 points and Luc Mbah a Moute had 15 points for Los Angeles.

Anthony Davis hurt his right shoulder late in the first quarter but played through it, scoring 21 points for New Orleans. E’Twaun Moore scored 15 points and Terrence Jones had 14 for the Pelicans, who have lost three of four and saw their home winning streak snapped at five.

The Clippers “were making the right plays,” Davis said. “We were living with Blake and Mbah a Moute taking jumpers and they made them.”

The Clippers made 10 3-pointers, with Mbah a Moute hitting three, Crawford hitting two and even Griffin hitting one from the left corner. The Pelicans, by contrast, were 5 of 20 from long range.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Los Angeles wound up 3-3 on its road swing that began in Dallas on Nov. 23. … Coach Doc Rivers gave starting shooting guard J.J. Redick, the team’s third-leading scorer (16 points per game), the night off. Rivers has been periodically resting starters this season. Griffin had sat out Tuesday night at Brooklyn. “It’s kind of a scientific thing we’re doing,” Griffin said. … Austin Rivers, who was drafted 10th overall by New Orleans in 2012 and traded in January 2015, missed eight of nine shots and finished with two points. … Paul was called for a Flagrant-1 foul when he grabbed Jones’ shoulder from behind to stop a breakaway layup.

Pelicans: Center Alexis Ajinca played 11 minutes, his most in eight games. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry had not played Ajinca in six of New Orleans’ previous seven games, and the 7-footer saw only 4 minutes last Sunday at Dallas. Against the Clippers, Ajinca had two points and three rebounds. … First-round draft choice Buddy Hield played just the final 3 minutes, hitting both shots he attempted for four points.

DEFENSIVE EFFORT

After a Pelicans shot-clock violation, the Clippers bench was on its feet, roaring in approval of their teammates’ defensive effort.

“A lot of times you see guys up cheering for big plays on the offensive end,” Griffin said. “It’s nice when your team is excited about those little things.”

In addition to holding Davis about 10 points below his scoring average, the Clippers combined for to block seven shots, including two each by Griffin, Mbah a Moute and DeAndre Jordan. Los Angeles had seven steals and outrebounded New Orleans 46-41.

“It started on defense, and I feel like we always say that when we have a big win but it’s so true,” Griffin said.

PIVOTAL RUN

Los Angeles opened a 15-point lead in the third quarter, when Griffin scored 11 points. Griffin hit three 19-foot jumpers, another from 17 feet and a finger roll during a pivotal 17-5 surge. Paul assisted on three of those baskets.

Paul “pretty much controlled the whole game after halftime,” Gentry said. “They were kind of running freely and shooting the ball freely and taking it wherever they wanted to.”

Paul said he noticed Griffin “was in rhythm early, and if he’s shooting it like that, the other team is in trouble.”

Indeed, New Orleans struggled to recover after that, getting no closer than 10 points on Davis’ short basket as he was fouled by Brandon Bass with 7:14 left. Los Angeles, which shot 51.1 percent (45 of 88), then rebuilt its lead to 20 in the late stages of the game.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Host Indiana on Sunday.

Pelicans: Visit Oklahoma City on Sunday.


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