LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin had 26 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers stormed out to a 31-point lead in the first quarter with Chris Paul back in the lineup and pummeled the Philadelphia 76ers 123-78 Sunday night.
Jamal Crawford scored 21 for the defending Pacific Division champions, who were 12-6 while Paul was sidelined with a separated right shoulder that occurred on Jan. 3 at Dallas. The seven-time All-Star point guard had seven points and eight assists in 23 minutes. DeAndre Jordan had 20 rebounds and 10 points, helping Los Angeles increase its division lead over idle Phoenix to four games.
Reserve Tony Wroten scored 21 points for the 76ers, losers of six straight and 13 of 16. Center Spencer Hawes missed all eight shots in 23 scoreless minutes and had just two rebounds.
The 45-point margin of victory was the largest for the Clippers’ franchise. The previous record was 39, set in a 121-82 victory over Chicago at Staples Center on Nov. 24.
Paul’s return provided an instant spark, as the Clippers opened the game with a 13-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Crawford off Philadelphia turnovers. They widened the gap to 30-5 while the 76ers missed 17 of their first 19 shots.
Griffin limped to the dressing room with a bruised left shin after Wroten fell into him on a foul by Jordan with less 3 minutes left in the opening period.
But the four-time All-Star returned to the bench before the team’s highest-scoring quarter of the season ended, and Willie Green put an exclamation point on it with a 3 from the left corner to give Los Angeles a 46-15 cushion.
Griffin and teammate Antawn Jamison shared a laugh on the bench as Wroten went to the foul line, trying to cut into a 54-17 deficit about 3 minutes into the second quarter. By then, it hardly seemed to matter to the sellout crowd that Clippers starting forward J.J. Redick missed his third straight game with a sore right hip. It was a laugher the whole way.
Griffin showed no hint of any ankle issues after that — particularly during a Showtime-like sequence in the second quarter. Paul went in alone on a fast break with Griffin trailing the play, then bounced the ball off the glass and Griffin sent the crowd into a frenzy with the first of back-to-back windmill dunks 27 seconds apart. That made it 60-21 with 4:46 left in the first half.
Philadelphia never challenged after the Clippers built a 69-30 halftime lead — matching the largest halftime advantage in franchise history set in November against Chicago. Crawford’s 15-footer gave the Clippers their biggest lead, 89-33, with 6:01 left in the third quarter. It was 100-51 going into the fourth.
Before Sunday, the Clippers had never beaten Philadelphia by more than 29 points since the franchises began playing each other in 1970-71. That was on March 20, 2013 (101-72). They have won the last five meetings, their longest streak against the Sixers since a franchise-best seven-gamer from Jan. 22, 1974 through Nov. 26, 1974, when they were the Buffalo Braves.
NOTES: The Clippers shot 56.2 percent and the Sixers 27.0 — going 3 for 28 from 3-point range. … Wroten didn’t get to touch the ball in the final seconds of the third quarter this time. On Friday night against the Lakers, he beat the horn with a 62-footer. Two nights earlier, he did the same thing with a 58-footer against Boston. … The Clippers are 10-1 against teams that are currently in last place in their respective divisions. The only blemish was a 98-80 loss at Orlando on Nov. 6. … Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick in the draft, entered Sunday leading all rookies in scoring (17.0), rebounding (5.4) and assists per game (6.6). No player that was selected 10th or later has won rookie of the year honors since Mark Jackson, who was chosen 18th by the Knicks in 1987. Another thing Carter-Williams has going for him is that the 76ers are 1-11 when he’s out of the lineup.
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