Jamal Crawford juked, Chris Paul orchestrated, Steve Ballmer dunked . . .
Wait, what? It's true.
There was a massive twist on the usual highlights Monday night at Staples Center. The Clippers might have become the first professional sports team to have its owner dunk as part of the halftime entertainment while unveiling a new mascot, Chuck the Condor.
Ballmer's team took it from there, the Clippers using a spirited fourth-quarter push to hold off the Brooklyn Nets, 105-95, during an otherwise flaccid showing.
Jamal Crawford scored 26 points off the bench and DeAndre Jordan soared for three dunks in the final 2:09 to help the Clippers (39-20) avoid having a worse record at home than on the road, where they are 19-10.
Paul added 23 points and 12 assists and J.J. Redick had 19 points for the Clippers, who won three of four games during a stretch against teams with losing records. Their schedule gets considerably tougher Wednesday with the Oklahoma City Thunder coming into town.
Ballmer dunked as part of a skit in which the team's mascot challenged him to do so. He jumped off a trampoline, held the ball aloft with two hands and cleared the rim as the crowd roared. His effort won every fan in attendance a free pair of Chuck Taylor sneakers.
The Clippers were in the locker room at the time and did not see the dunk, though they were aware Ballmer had been working on it at the team's practice facility.
“He's a brilliant guy and when he told me he was doing that, I had to question him for one second,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “It went off well. I'm glad he did it.”
Said Paul: “I caught the end of a replay. When I heard he did it, I didn't believe it. I want to see how many other owners in our league could do that. Put them out there on All-Star Saturday night, get the ratings up.”
Ballmer wasn't the only person not competing in the game to wow the crowd. One fan made a halfcourt shot during a fourth-quarter timeout to win a car.
Crawford continued his ascent up the NBA's all-time scoring list. He surpassed former Clipper Elton Brand on Friday and now owns 90th place with 16,786 points after edging past Buck Williams (16,784).
“It's pretty cool, especially when you hear the names and hear some legends,” Crawford said.
It was hardly a perfect night for the Clippers. Forward Luc Mbah a Moute suffered a left eyelid laceration in the second quarter and did not return. Rivers said he did not think Mbah a Moute, one of the team's top defenders, would be able to play Wednesday.
Brooklyn also was short-handed after guard Wayne Ellington left because of a possible concussion. Brook Lopez had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who led by six points late in the third quarter before the Clippers went on an 8-0 run capped by Crawford's buzzer-beating jumper.
“I didn't like our offense tonight,” Rivers said, “but Jamal was good during that stretch.”
The crowd didn't seem quite sure how to react at halftime upon the presentation of the Clippers' new mascot, representing the endangered California condor.
“It's just like us,” Rivers said. “It used to be extinct and now it's coming back.”
Ballmer also appeared to be on the rise with his basketball skills.
“I thought Vanilla Ice had done another halftime show or something, but it was Ballmer dunking,” Redick said. “It was pretty good.”
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