LOS ANGELES (Sporting Alert) Chris Paul won his battle against Kobe Bryant on his way to finishing with a double-double, as the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 107-102 on Friday night.
Clippers (26-8), who were without their fourth quarter top scorer Jamal Crawford, who missed the game with a sore foot, jumped off to an impressive start and at one point were up 19 points until Bryant and Lakers came rushing back in the final quarter.
And after watching his team struggling to score and the Lakers cutting the advantage to just two points when Bryant knocked down a jumper with his jersey in his mouth with 1:12 left, Paul took over down the stretch and hit some big shots and free throws to collect 30 points, 13 assists and six rebounds to take the win and end a two game skid.
With the victory, the Clippers, for the first time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1984-85 season, beat the Lakers (15-17) back-to-back in their first two games.
“We just made a few timely shots. It was about time we make one,” Paul, who after knocking a few free throws made a decisive step back jumper over Bryant to extend the lead to six, said.
“Last four minutes, we had some terrible possessions, pretty much my fault. So a great credit to our team defense.”
Bryant again led the Lakers with 38 points, but admits it was tough to guard Paul at the other end.
“It was a contested jumper and he knocked it down. The superstar players will do that,” Bryant said of Paul’s late jumper.
“He’s very crafty, and to his credit he made some pretty tough shots.”
Blake Griffin scored 24 points and five rebounds for the Clippers, which matched a franchise record of 11 successive wins at home.
Dwight Howard finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds before he was fouled out for the Lakers, while Jodie Meeks added 14 and Jordan Hill chipped in with 13 points and seven boards before he was forced to leave the game with a sprained right ankle in the fourth quarter.
“We played extremely well and we played well defensively in the fourth quarter, so we’ve just got to kind of rely on that a little bit,” Bryant said.
“We’ve got to watch the film and just kind of understand some of the adjustments that we made from the first three quarters.
“They’re just extremely athletic and they do a good job of running and getting out and getting momentum for easy baskets.”
Steve Nash ended with 12 points and 10 assists for the Lakers in the defeat.
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