LOS ANGELES (AP) — With Blake Griffin injured, the Los Angeles Clippers are finding out who else can contribute.
Austin Rivers showed he can bring some offense, scoring a career-high 28 points in 26 minutes off the bench, helping the Clippers beat the Sacramento Kings 126-99 Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.
“He was aggressive, that’s what we need, especially with him coming off the bench behind Chris (Paul),” said DeAndre Jordan, who had 11 points and 15 rebounds.
J.J. Redick scored 24 points, hitting four 3-pointers and all eight of his free throws, and Jamal Crawford added 23 points off the bench as the Clippers improved to 4-1 without Griffin, who watched from the bench as he recovers from right elbow surgery.
“With Blake being out, we definitely move the ball a lot more,” said Chris Paul, who had 10 points and nine assists.
Los Angeles trailed by 10 points in the first quarter, then took over in the second and cruised from there. The Clippers made 14 3-pointers, with Rivers tying his career high of five.
“Pro sports is all about opportunity and fit,” said Rivers, who joined the Clippers in a trade from Boston after leaving New Orleans. “I loved New Orleans, but I didn’t fit in there.”
Doc Rivers called himself a “proud coach” rather than a proud dad watching his son.
“His confidence has grown since he’s been here,” the elder Rivers said. “The guys have been so supportive because they know what he can do offensively. He got on the team with his defense.”
DeMarcus Cousins scored 21 points and Rudy Gay added 15 for the Kings, who have lost eight of 11. Coach George Karl was tagged with his first loss after winning his debut against Boston on Friday.
“When they got on their run, we really didn’t know how to bounce back from it,” Cousins said. “Some fatigue kicked in as well and our energy level went down. We let them gain confidence and they just ran away with the game.”
The Clippers opened the second quarter on a 23-4 run, including eight by Crawford and six by Matt Barnes, to take a 47-33 lead. They had six 3-pointers in the period, with Redick hitting their last one for a 66-47 lead going into halftime. Sacramento was held to 36 percent shooting in the quarter.
“Early we thought our offense was going to get us the lead,” Paul said. “It’s our defense that leads to our offense and we forgot about that to start the game.”
Redick scored six of the Clippers’ first 11 points in the third, pushing their lead to 77-56. Crawford dominated the final 3:57, scoring 11 points, including seven in a 37-second span, to keep the Clippers ahead 97-65 going into the fourth.
“I don’t know if anybody could have stopped Jamal Crawford,” Karl said. “He was unbelievable. Maybe we ran out of gas, but mentally we got frustrated. After the first quarter, everything was working for them. They had fun playing and kicking our butts.”
The Clippers turned the final period into a 3-point shootout, with Rivers hitting three straight and Hedo Turkoglu adding another. Their largest lead was 37 points.
Kings: They were 4 of 16 from 3-point range. … Former Clipper Darren Collison sat out his fourth straight game with a right hip flexor strain. … The Kings fell to 1-2 against the Clippers this season. … G David Stockton, son of Hall of Famer John Stockton, joined the roster on a 10-day contract and had one point in 7 minutes.
Clippers: Redick struggled on his own to help Davis up after Big Baby was knocked to the floor in the third period. … Davis blew a kiss to the crowd after it cheered him making just his second and third free throws after missing six. … Rivers returned from a sore left ankle.
Jordan couldn’t resist teasing Austin when they crossed paths after the game.
“Ooh, 28 points,” Jordan said. “I shot 28 free throws the other night.”
Jordan took a jab, too, saying, “I only played 20 minutes. I got to talk to Doc about that.”
The younger Rivers replied, “At least you don’t look at me because I can’t do anything about that.”
Karl said he missed basketball to the point where it was going to start annoying his family. But rejoining the coaching ranks made him nervous all over again.
“When you get jobs earlier (in your career), you have maybe a different mindset and your ego’s different,” he said. “But the first couple of practices I was very nervous, and last night was extremely overwhelming and non-deserved. The Sacramento fans are off the charts right now in their generosity and kindness toward G.K.”
Kings: Host Memphis on Wednesday.
Clippers: Host Memphis on Monday.
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