CLIPPERS

Even without DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin, Clippers make it 10 wins in a row

The last time Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan both missed a game, Kim Hughes was coaching the Clippers. Baron Davis was the team's point guard, two years before his retirement and more than half a decade before he would start his current comeback attempt by venturing to the Development League.

A lot has changed since Feb. 9, 2010, including the Clippers' resilience.

The absence of their top two frontcourt players couldn't stop the Clippers or the NBA's longest active winning streak, which both rolled on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Clippers shrugged off a 16-point deficit in the second quarter on the way to a surprisingly comfortable 104-90 victory over the Miami Heat that extended their season-long winning streak to 10 games.

Jordan sat out because of pneumonia, ending the NBA's longest consecutive games played streak at 360. Griffin has not played since Christmas because of a partially torn left quadriceps tendon.

The void was filled by just about everyone left on the Clippers roster. Chris Paul continued his aggressive play of late with 15 points and 12 rebounds, Pablo Prigioni came up with a career-high eight steals and Cole Aldrich was strong across the board with 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Even previously buried-on-the-bench Josh Smith logged 20 quality minutes. It was a night of strange occurrences for the Clippers (26-13).

“Playing without DJ tonight was the weirdest thing ever,” Paul said. “My first game in a Clippers uniform without him.”

Miami was missing starting point guard Goran Dragic because of a strained left calf, but the Heat didn't look short-handed in taking a 47-31 lead amid haphazard defense by the Clippers. The absence of Dragic started to be felt late in the second quarter as the Heat started to get sloppy on offense, a trend that would continue as it finished the game with 24 turnovers.

Gerald Green finished with 19 points for Miami, which scored just 38 points in the second half.

“We didn't do any changes defensively,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, “we just started doing it harder.”

The Clippers benefited from a wild third quarter in which they scored the first 13 points and outscored the Heat, 34-17. Aldrich was an unexpected offensive catalyst, showing a nice touch on his hook shot and continually rolling toward the basket on the way to 13 points in the quarter.

“We jokingly said before the game there won't be a lot of lobs for Cole,” Rivers said, “there will be a lot of land shark rolls and he did that. He rolled himself to the basket, he got his body in position and he made shots. He was terrific.”

There was an odd sight in the first half as both Smith and Lance Stephenson played after falling out of the rotation in recent weeks. Of course, the Clippers really didn't have much of a choice.

Smith set a few picks, played some solid defense and seemed initially reluctant to shoot from the perimeter, missing his first two shots near the basket. Smith finished with nine points on four-for-11 shooting to go with three of the Clippers' 18 steals.

The Clippers were down 52-45 at halftime, which felt like a small victory considering they shot 39.2%, took only two free throws and allowed the Heat to shoot 52.5% over the game's first two quarters.

“Paul was great at halftime,” Rivers said. “He kept saying, ‘We're going to win this game.' ”

They did after outscoring the Heat, 38-10, from late in the second quarter to midway through the third, notching arguably their most impressive victory of the season in the process.

Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter: @latbbolch

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on January 14, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Clippers climb out of big hole - They overcome absence of Jordan and Griffin to win their 10th game in a row. - CLIPPERS 104 MIAMI 90" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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