Paul keeps Clippers on top in Los Angeles battle

Sat Jan 5, 2013 3:01am EST
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By Jahmal Corner

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Chris Paul and the Clippers maintained a grip on top billing in Los Angeles with a tense 107-102 victory over the Lakers on Friday to cement their status as the city's best team.

Paul withstood a fierce challenge from Kobe Bryant, recording 30 points and 13 assists to Bryant's 38 points, and the Clippers moved further ahead in both the standings and the crosstown rivalry.

"It's a big win because it's a division game," Paul told reporters, after he carried the scoring load in the absence of injured reserve Jamal Crawford (sore foot).

"That was ugly down the stretch and it was all my fault. We had some terrible possessions (late) and made it interesting for the fans."

The Lakers did their best to tear up the script late on by climbing out of a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter and closing to 99-97 with two minutes remaining.

However, Paul shut the door on the Lakers, scoring the final eight points for his team, including a tough step-back jumper over the outstretched Bryant in the waning moments.

Blake Griffin added 24 points in the winning effort while Dwight Howard put up 21 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers (15-17), who have lost three of their last four.

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Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (R) drives past Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok