On a night in which Blake Griffin had a historic moment and got into it with yet another opponent, the Clippers had to hold off on blowing a 25-point lead.
The Clippers saw their lead sliced to four points late, but Matt Barnes made three of four free throws to help them beat the Phoenix Suns, 112-105, on Monday night at Staples Center.
After Goran Dragic (23 points) scored to pull the Suns to within four points, Barnes made two free throws with 20.9 seconds left and one more with 13.0 seconds left for a seven-point Clippers lead.
Barnes finished with 13 points and six rebounds to help the Clippers win for the eighth consecutive time.
“I thought this was a hard game to focus through,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. “There was a lot of stuff, a lot of fouls.”
All was well until Griffin and P.J. Tucker became entangled with 5 minutes 28 seconds left in the game, the two of them wrestling each other to the court.
After the two pushed, shoved and grappled while down on the court, the officials looked at the replay monitor and decided Tucker would be called for a foul, given a technical and ejected from the game.
“Blake gets hit as much as anybody in the league and I think we've all seen it. It gets old,” Rivers said.
Griffin, who finished with 37 points on 14-for-16 shooting and nine-for-10 shooting on free throws, then was overaggressive with his play.
He was called for consecutive offensive fouls, the last with 3:23 remaining that fouled him out of the game with the Clippers leading by 10 points.
That lead was cut to 105-99 on back-to-back drives by Dragic, putting the Suns back in the game.
The Clippers helped the Suns stay in the game by committing 22 turnovers.
But Chris Paul did his part as well. He had 17 points and 11 assists.
Griffin had 22 first-quarter points, which was the second-highest total in franchise history for a quarter. Baron Davis scored 23 against Minnesota on Jan. 29, 2010.
When the Clippers' franchise was known as the Buffalo Braves, Randy Smith scored 23 points in a quarter on Oct. 20, 1973 against Boston.
Griffin made eight of nine shots and all six of his free throws in the first quarter.
He was one short of the franchise record of nine field goals in a quarter, set seven times, the last by Ken Norman against Denver on March 27, 1989.
Griffin nearly outscored the Suns in the first quarter, coming up one point short of Phoenix's 23.
But it wasn't as if Griffin was the only one putting in work for the Clippers.
Darren Collison, who was hit in his groin early in the fourth quarter and was forced to return to the locker room with head athletic trainer Jasen Powell, had 20 points.
The Clippers, who defeated the Suns last week in Phoenix, built a 77-52 lead in the third quarter, just seemingly breezing along.
But the Suns just kept coming, pulling to within 11 points late in the third.
However, when Barnes made a 27-foot three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the third, the Clippers led, 90-76.
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