SACRAMENTO — What figured to be yet another challenge for the Clippers turned into something they were more than up for.
But it took six Clippers scoring in double figures, it took them making clutch free throws, and it took them hanging tough when the game got tenuous for them to get by the Sacramento Kings, 110-101, Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.
Chris Paul once again led the way, with 26 points and 10 assists.
But Blake Griffin also came up big, with 20 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots. Griffin also didn’t miss any of his eight free throws.
The Clippers as a team made 28 of 34 (82.4%) of their free throws for the game, 16 of 17 (94.1%) in the fourth quarter to hold off the Kings.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Griffin said. “Forget the back-to-backs. We knew it was going to be tough regardless. These are the games we’ve got to win.”
And the Clippers did win their second straight game playing on consecutive nights.
They won despite blowing a 15-point lead in the third quarter, that then turned into a two-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.
They won despite foul trouble for Clippers’ big men DeAndre Jordan (five), Ryan Hollins (four) and Byron Mullens (five).
That’s where Griffin came up big time for the Clippers, playing 41 minutes, 23 seconds.
“I never want to come out of the game anyway,” Griffin said. “So to be able to play a lot of minutes is fine.”
Sacramento’s little big man, 5-foot-9 Isaiah Thomas, was a big reason the Kings were able to fight back, his 29 points causing the Clippers all sorts of problems.
But a big play for the Clippers came when Paul had his shot blocked out of bounds by DeMarcus Cousins, who then started trash-talking Paul and was given a technical foul with 2:40 left in the game.
J.J. Redick (13 points) made the technical foul-free throw for a 100-97 Clippers lead.
Jordan was fouled on a roll to the basket with 2:39 left.
Jordan had entered the game four for 16 from the free-throw line. He had missed his first two free throws in the Sacramento game when he was intentionally fouled in the first half.
But with 2:39 left in the game and the Clippers clinging to a three-point lead, Jordan stepped to the free-throw line and made both free throws to push his team’s lead to 102-97.
“I just wanted to go up there and knock them down, man,” said Jordan, who was four-for-six from the free-throw line.
When Jared Dudley made two free throws for a 104-99 Clippers, they were finally able to breathe.
“We talked about that these are the type of games that you’ve got to win,” Paul said. “These are the games you come in with all the excuses in the world. We were in a dogfight against the Warriors, but we sucked it up and came out here and got a big win.”