Clippers down Hawks with late flourish
By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With their reserve players sparking play in the final quarter, the Los Angeles Clippers pulled away from the pesky Atlanta Hawks to end a tightly contested game with a flourish and an 89-76 win on Sunday.
Back-up guard Eric Bledsoe contributed 12 points, Jamal Crawford 11 and Matt Barnes 10 as the Clippers outscored the Hawks 24-16 in the fourth period to claim their third consecutive victory.
Twice All-Star Blake Griffin scored a game-high 16 points and Chris Paul weighed in with 15 points and eight assists for Los Angeles but they were indebted to their bench unit after the team shot only 45.7 percent from the field in the first half.
"It is unbelievable how they come into games and put the pressure on teams and increase the lead," forward Griffin told reporters while paying tribute to the Clippers' reserves.
"A lot of these guys could be starting on any team in the NBA. I don't like to call them the second team because there is not much of a drop-off when they come into the game.
"We are all on the same level, we are all one team," added Griffin, who was one of six Clippers in double figures.
Crawford, the 2010 Sixth Man of the Year when he was playing for Atlanta, was equally proud of his bench team mates.
"There's a lot of confidence from our coaching staff and our starters," he said. "We believe in our bench. We think our bench is better than a lot of starting units. Continued...