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Clippers beat Pelicans, 114-96, to end trip with back-to-back wins

Clippers beat Pelicans, 114-96, to end trip with back-to-back wins
Clippers forward Blake Griffin drives to the basket against Pelicans forward Terrence Jones during the first half of a game on Dec. 2. (Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

At the start of this six-game excursion, when the Clippers were still on a high because of their optimized play, none of them would have imagined that by the end they’d just be hoping the salvage the trip.

But that was the fate they had to accept after a 114-96 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night that had to ease the Clippers’ minds, given their uneven play on the trip.

Certainly, finishing with a 3-3 ledger was better than the alternative, considering the Clippers were 1-3 at one point.

"Obviously we won three games. We went .500," Coach Doc Rivers said. "Years past, that's probably good, not good enough. But the way we look at things, we can't get it back so we don't even worry about it. It is what it is. It could have been an awful trip. Then we turned it into a pretty good trip."

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The journey began at Dallas on Nov. 23 with a 20-point victory over the Mavericks. Then came losses at Detroit, Indiana and Brooklyn, and suddenly a promising trip was in danger of unraveling.

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But they rebounded with an invigorating victory over the defending NBA champion Cavaliers on Thursday night in Cleveland, and a feel-good win over New Orleans on the second night of a back-to-back to complete the trip.

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"If you think about it, we started off 1-3, with our last two games at Cleveland and we knew we were going to be here off a back-to-back and these guys are [5-2] in their last [seven games]," said Chris Paul, who narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 17 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds. "So all in all, I'm glad how we closed out the trip."

Friday was J.J. Redick’s turn to sit out for rest, with Raymond Felton (12 points) starting in his place at shooting guard.

Blake Griffin, who sat out the game at Brooklyn, led the Clippers with 27 points and had 10 rebounds. Luc Mbah a Moute contributed 15 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and continued great defense. And Jamal Crawford had 21 points off the bench.

New Orleans tried to counter with All-Star forward Anthony Davis, but he had a tough night trying to do it all alone, especially since he had to leave the game between the first and second quarters with a right shoulder injury. But he came back and finished with 21 points in 32 minutes.

So the Clippers are 16-5 and return home for a game Sunday at Staples Center against Indiana with a better frame of mind because they won their last two games.

"At the end of a road trip, it can go one or two ways," Griffin said. "You can kind of be like, 'All right, let's go finish this out on a good note and get home and get this over with.' Or you can completely lose focus and come in and not play the way you want. I thought we did the first."

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner

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