LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Clippers continue to win games without their leading scorer. And whenever Blake Griffin gets rid of those street clothes and returns to the lineup, they’ll only get better.
Chris Paul had 25 points and seven assists and the Clippers extended their winning streak to eight with a 97-83 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.
Los Angeles is 7-0 since Griffin went down with a partially torn tendon in his left quad. Overall, they are 19-8 when the five-time All-Star has been sidelined due to injury or suspension – including a 9-6 mark last season.
“I think it’s because we all had to step up by committee,” Paul said. “We’re moving the ball and putting a huge emphasis on defense. The only way we can really score without the big fella is we defend and get out in transition.”
Center DeAndre Jordan, making a push for his first career All-Star selection, had 19 rebounds. It was the 11th straight game in double digits for the franchise’s career rebounding leader. He led the NBA in rebounding the previous two seasons.
J.J. Redick added 17 points for the Clippers. The winning streak is their fourth of eight or more games in the past four seasons. They had an 11-game run in 2013-14, a nine-game stretch last season, and won a franchise-record 17 straight in 2012-13 – going 16-0 in December.
Jeremy Lin made his sixth start of the season and scored 26 points for the Hornets, who have lost a season-worst six in a row and seven straight on the road. Shooting guard Nicolas Batum missed his fourth straight game because of a sprained toe on his right foot.
“At this point, we are just trying to get a win,” Lin said. “But I would say today that we played harder and had more communication on the defensive end than we have had in previous games. If we keep playing as hard as we did today, good things will happen in the near future.”
Jeremy Lamb had 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds.
Kemba Walker, the Hornets’ leading scorer this season, had 11 points on 4-for-16 shooting after averaging 26.6 over his previous seven games.
“He missed some shots, but I thought C.P. and Austin were really effective with their size and getting into him,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “But I thought our bigs were good with Walker today, too. They were very alert to him and they were up to the pick-and-rolls a little bit more.”
Paul’s 19-footer capped a 13-1 run that turned a three-point Clippers deficit into a 58-49 lead with 6:02 left in the third quarter. They led by six entering the fourth and made it 86-75 on Redick’s 19-footer from the left of the key. The Hornets got no closer than nine after that.
“We don’t have the residual effect of bad play. We just get out of it,” Rivers said. “I didn’t have to say much at halftime. You could just see that guys were upset, and they were talking about it when I walked in. So what else do I need to say. They’re policing themselves, and that’s important.”
The Hornets’ losing streak began with a 122-117 home loss to the Clippers, who have won 10 of the last 11 meetings. They are 7-12 since signing coach Steve Clifford to a three-year contract extension Dec. 2.
Hornets: F Spencer Hawes, who spent last season with the Clippers and was traded along with Matt Barnes for F Lance Stephenson in June, had seven points in 14 minutes. … The Hornets, who came in averaging 38.5 points off the bench, finished with 31 from their reserves. … Seven-foot C Frank Kaminsky, the ninth overall pick in the draft, scored 20 points the last time the teams met. He had four in the rematch. … The Hornets had 16 turnovers. They entered Saturday averaging a league-low 12.7, after finishing last season with the fewest in the league.
Clippers: Griffin isn’t expected to see a doctor until next week. … Jordan closed out last season with a career-best double-digit rebound streak of 31 games, and had a 24-game streak in 2013-14. He entered Saturday with a .league-best 73.1 field goal percentage. The highest percentage in NBA history at the end of a season is 72.7, by the Lakers’ Wilt Chamberlain in 1972-73.
Hornets: At Denver on Sunday.
Clippers: Host New Orleans on Sunday.