It wasn’t so much a run as it was a blitz, a full-court assault — and possible battery on one Blake Griffin blocked shot — that the Clippers used to catapult themselves toward a 114-105 victory over the New York Knicks in Staples Center on Monday night.
In a span of 1 minute 14 seconds in the third quarter, the Clippers reeled off 11 straight points to turn a 69-57 lead into an 80-57 advantage.
Griffin, who scored a game-high 30 points on 12-for-19 shooting, opened the barrage with a three-pointer from the left corner. Luc Mbah a Moute converted a turnover into a fast-break basket.
Griffin then forcefully rejected a Willy Hernangomez dunk attempt on the defensive end, and Chris Paul, who had 13 points, 13 assists and five rebounds, hit a pair of three-pointers before Kristaps Porzingis ended the run with a dunk.
“That block was spectacular,” Coach Doc Rivers said of Griffin’s play. “I just loved the third quarter because we got stops, we ran the court. I thought our transition game was good all night. I really enjoyed that.”
The flurry highlighted a quarter in which the Clippers outscored the Knicks, 34-19, en route to their 10th straight win over New York dating to Feb. 10, 2013, their longest active winning streak against any opponent.
The Knicks went on a late 12-2 run against the Clippers reserves to make the score 109-101 with 1:33 left, but Rivers left his starters on the bench — for the entire fourth quarter, actually — and the Clippers held on for their second straight win.
Reserve Austin Rivers scored 17 points for the Clippers, and DeAndre Jordan, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford each scored 14.
Derrick Rose and Porzingis each scored 18 points to lead the Knicks.
The Clippers (42-29) moved to within a game of the Utah Jazz for fourth place in the Western Conference (and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs) and built a 11/2-game cushion over the sixth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder with 11 games remaining.
The Clippers are in the middle of a grueling stretch in which they’ll play eight games in 12 days, a schedule that will challenge Rivers’ ability to juggle the pursuit of a higher playoff seeding with conserving players for the playoffs.
“They collide at times, and for me I’m always going to lean toward the side of rest,” Rivers said. “I would love to have seeding. Our goal coming in was to be a one or two [seed], but with the way the season turned out with all of the injuries, you had to let that go. Then, you start thinking health and being ready.”
To that end, Rivers said the training staff has circled Thursday’s game at Dallas as “a game of concern.” Jordan and Griffin did not travel to Denver for last Thursday’s game; Paul and Redick could be bumped from the flight to Dallas.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo Monday to teams calling the practice of resting marquee players “an extremely significant issue for our league,” and that it will be a prime topic of discussion at the next NBA Board of Governors meeting on April 6 in New York.
“That’s a sensitive subject around here right now,” Rivers said, when asked if there were plans to rest players this week. “Yeah, there is, but I don’t know who yet. And there might not be. I kind of recuse myself from that. I leave it up to guys who are smarter than me, and we’ll see how it goes.”
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