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|Griffin soars to spark Clippers victory|
|Thursday, 29 March 2012 22:04|
(REUTERS) - Blake Griffin soared through the air in a spectacular third-quarter move that helped the Los Angeles Clippers take flight in a 103-86 triumph over the visiting Phoenix Suns Wednesday night.
Griffin's three-point play, in which he banged in a shot despite contact, gave the Clippers (29-11) a 10-point lead heading into the fourth and marked the beginning of an aerial display that carried the home team to a third consecutive win.
The All-Star forward finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, stealing the spotlight at the Staples Center with a collection of powerful second-half dunks.
His most memorable came late in the fourth when he took a pass from Chris Paul in the lane and threw down a massive right-hander over Phoenix's Channing Frye, putting the exclamation point on the victory.
"(Paul) set me up perfectly," Griffin told reporters. "I thought our defence got us out in the open court and we got some easy buckets. It was kind of an emotional game and we were having fun towards the end."
After trailing at halftime by just two, Phoenix (25-26) went cold in the second half and could only watch as the Clippers piled up the points.
The Suns' Marcin Gortat scored 23 points and Steve Nash added 15 assists but the visitors were doomed by their 37 percent shooting. They played a second consecutive game without starter Grant Hill, who is nursing a knee ailment.
Back-to-back defeats have slowed the Sunsâ€™ progress in the playoff race where they are two games out of a post-season spot.
The Clippers are fourth in the West and back on the winning trail after a three-game losing streak that raised questions about the job security of coach Vinny Del Negro.
Los Angeles could not pull away from Phoenix in the first half but exploded for 60 points in the second.
"We know what (the Suns) are capable of. We really wanted to put this game away. We understand how important every game is and we're starting to play with a sense of urgency," Paul said.
In other results, Minnesota 88 Charlotte 83, Detroit 87 Cleveland 75 New YorkÂ Knicks 108 Orlando 86, Toronto 105 Denver 96, Chicago 98 Atlanta 77, New Jersey 100 Indiana 84, Boston 94 Utah 82, San Antonio 117 Sacramento 112 and New Orleans 102 Golden State 87.
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