Clippers 92, Bobcats 87
CHARLOTTE ó Winning on the road is a rare thing for the Los Angeles Clippers. Winning anywhere without top scorer Eric Gordon is unusual.
You wouldnít have known they accomplished both feats Monday night by listening to coach Vinny Del Negro.
Behind 17 points and 15 rebounds from Blake Griffin and impressive contributions from the bench, the Clippers overcame a sluggish start for a rare 92-87 road victory over the undermanned and slumping Charlotte Bobcats.
With Gordon sidelined indefinitely with more wrist problems, the Clippers got 17 points from Mo Williams, and 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench from Chris Kaman in their third straight victory.
The Clippers improved to 6-25 on the road and 5-16 when they play without Gordon.
ěWeíll take the win on the road, but we have to have a tougher mentality on the road,î said Del Negro, particularly annoyed by his teamís play in the first half. ěWe seem to have it more at home. But we need everybody to play at a high level and not worry about minutes and statistics and who has the ball.î
Gerald Henderson scored 20 points and Boris Diaw added 15 of his 19 points in the first half for the Bobcats, who have dropped a season-high five straight.
Charlotte fell to 1-5 since trading Gerald Wallace to Portland and lost its second straight since Stephen Jackson was sidelined with a strained hamstring.
ěWe were close, but anytime you take the best player out of your lineup, youíre going to suffer,î Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. ěWe tried hard. We just didnít have enough.î
Eric Bledsoe hit two 3-pointers and Randy Foye added another in a 15-4 run to give the Clippers a 74-67 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Bobcats, struggling to find consistent scoring, got within 89-85 before Bledsoe hit one of two free throws with 18.2 seconds to close it out.
ěWeíve got to come up with some baskets in crunch time,î said Henderson, who had his third 20-point game of the season.
Thereís little margin for error with the Bobcats these days after owner Michael Jordan traded the former All-Star Wallace for two first-round draft picks.
With Jordan watching from his courtside seat, Charlotte couldnít overcome 4-of-16 shooting from point guard D.J. Augustin to fall 11/2 games behind idle Indiana for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference
While the Clippers are out of playoff contention in the West, they had more options on offense even without Gordon. Del Negro expects him to miss at least the rest of the five-game road trip after aggravating a wrist injury Saturday.
The Clippers found different ways to make up for his loss, especially with Griffin hitting only five of 11 shots and managed only one jaw-dropping dunk. Griffin did hit 7 of 8 free throws, and the Clippers got to the line 29 times in snapping a three-game losing streak in Charlotte.
ěI want to continue working on my shot. I shot two airballs off the glass and thatís not really my go-to type of money shot,î Griffin said. ěWhen that happens, it kind of feels like itís going to be a long night, but thankfully hitting free throws helps.î
So does playing a depleted team.
Jackson, who aggravated an old injury last Friday against the Lakers, was still limping at the morning shootaround but said heíd try to do a little in practice Tuesday. He wouldnít rule out playing Wednesday against Chicago, although Silas was more cautious.
Silas was more confident Wednesday could mark the return of forward Tyrus Thomas, who missed his 23rd straight game following left knee surgery. Thomas is scheduled to practice in full Tuesday after being cleared by doctors before the game.
Charlotte desperately needs bodies, especially after guard Matt Carroll was sidelined in the second quarter with a sprained left ankle.
The Bobcats have their longest losing streak since dropping seven in a row early last season.
ěJack and Tyrus are two big keys to our team,î Henderson said. ěOverall, weíre going to need them to win.î
Notes: Silas said it was important Jackson didnít rush back. ěHe looks at us and Iíd be anxious to get back, too,î Silas said. ěBut he just canít do that. Heís got to wait until heís completely healed.î … Silas said he wished the team didnít take a redeye flight back from Portland on Saturday night. ěI told them that weíll never do that again,î he said. ěWe will stay the next day and then fly normally because you can get your normal rest.î … Diaw had been 4 of 23 from the field in the previous three games … Clippers C DeAndre Jordan and F Ryan Gomes picked up third-quarter technical fouls for complaining.
The Associated Press