Crawford sizzles as Clippers hammer Mavs
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jamal Crawford once again sizzled off the bench as the Los Angeles Clippers pounded the struggling Dallas Mavericks 112-90 with a commanding display on their home court on Wednesday.
Crawford scored a game-high 20 points on seven-of 12 shooting while twice All-Star forward Blake Griffin weighed in with 19 points and 13 rebounds to help Los Angeles win their fourth successive game.
With forward Caron Butler contributing 16 points and point guard Chris Paul adding 14 along with 13 assists, six Clippers players reached double figures as the home team improved their record to 12-6.
"It's a lot of fun when you're winning and everyone's playing the right way and everyone's getting an opportunity," five-time All-Star Paul said after the Clippers tightened their hold at the top of the Western Conference's Pacific division.
"We feed off everybody's energy. There's no point having all this depth if we don't use it the right way.
"What is so great about our team is how close we are off the court. Nights like this, it translates to the court really well."
Veteran guard Vince Carter led the way with 16 points for the Mavericks, whose 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki has not yet played this season while he recovers from knee surgery.
Dallas were outshot by 50 percent to 40.5 from the field and out-rebounded 49-41 at the Staples Center as they slipped to 8-10 for the season with their third straight road loss.
"Dallas has their big gun out in Dirk and he has been their stabling force there for a long time," said Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro. "We jumped on them early. It was a good win for us but we can play better."
The Clippers made a fast start in front of a sellout crowd of 19,060, racing 7-0 up before ending the first quarter with a commanding 29-18 lead after being paced by dunk specialist Griffin, who scored 11 points.
Though the Mavericks began the second quarter with an unanswered 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 29-27, the red-hot Crawford made three three-pointers as the Clippers again pulled away to go up 60-42 by half-time.
Dallas closed the gap to 69-57 after former Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who signed with the team last week, made three three-pointers but Los Angeles regained control to take an 83-68 advantage into the final quarter.
There was no way back from there for the Mavericks and the Clippers completed their scoring with a flourish when back-up point guard Eric Bledsoe drove to the basket for a reverse layup before adding an alley oop dunk after an assist from Crawford.
"It's great when you're winning," said 12-year league veteran Crawford, the 2010 Sixth Man-of-the-Year who was averaging 17.6 points per game this season before Wednesday's meeting with Dallas.
"Guys are looking out for each other. Coach is doing a good job of keeping us prepared, and we're staying engaged."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Greg Stutchbury/Patrick Johnston)
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