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Published: Saturday, 3/2/2013

Irving-less Cleveland struggles to keep up with high-flying L.A. in 105-89 loss

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin shoots over the Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson. Griffin scored 16 points. Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin shoots over the Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson. Griffin scored 16 points.
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CLEVELAND — Jamal Crawford scored 24 points, making a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Chris Paul had 15 assists as the Los Angeles Clippers ran away in the final period and beat the Cavaliers 105-89 on Friday night for their first win in Cleveland since 2002.

The Clippers had lost 10 straight at Quicken Loans Arena.

Blake Griffin had 16 points and 11 rebounds as the Clippers, having their best season in franchise history, won their fourth in a row. After Griffin scored on a monster dunk — off a lob from Crawford — to put Los Angeles ahead by 23, Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro pulled his starters with 4:19 left.

Rookie Dion Waiters scored 17 for the Cavs, who played their third straight game without injured All-Star Kyrie Irving.

With Los Angeles leading by 11 and unable to shake off the Cavs, Crawford converted a four-point play to put the Clippers ahead 75-71 with 9:51 left.

Never one to pass up a shot — whether he's open or not — Crawford was fouled by Marresse Speights while knocking down a 3-pointer from the deep corner. He then made the free throw, giving Crawford 37 career four-point plays, extending his NBA record for the quirky play.

It seemed to send a jolt through the Clippers, who were understandably sluggish after playing at Indiana on Thursday night.

After a basket by Eric Bledsoe, Crawford banked in another long 3 to beat the shot clock. As he retreated on defense, Crawford complained to the officials he had been fouled, but to no avail. The next time the Clippers had the ball, Paul drained a 3 to make it 93-76, and Cleveland fans began heading toward the exits.

C.J. Miles had 16 points and Tristan Thompson 15 for the Cavs, who were within nine to open the fourth but didn't have enough firepower to match the high-flying Clippers.

Griffin beat Cleveland's Tyler Zeller down the floor and soared for an alley-oop dunk, getting fouled on the play by the rookie center. As Griffin picked himself up before shooting and making his free throw, Paul had a word or two with Zeller, who shrugged and tried to explain the contact was not on purpose.

Moments later, Griffin made a steal near halfcourt and went in for an uncontested dunk, a throwdown that delighted the crowd and would have earned a 50 from a panel of dunk-contest judges.

But just when it appeared the Clippers might take off, Waiters scored four points and the Cavs went into the fourth down 77-68.

Named the Eastern Conference's top rookie in February after averaging 15.8 points, Waiters came out hot. He made his first four shots and scored nine points in the first quarter, but spent the final 2:51 on the bench with two fouls.



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