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Clippers maintain winning pace, get by Hornets

Chris Paul finished with 17 points and 14 assists, and knocked down all six of his free-throw attempts in the final 17.3 seconds as the Los Angeles Clippers held on for a 96-93 win over the New Orleans Hornets.

Also scoring in double figures for the Clippers were Blake Griffin with a team-best 20 points, followed by reserves Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Barnes also cleared 10 rebounds as the Clips logged their fourth win in a row.

The Hornets were paced by Eric Gordon with 25 points, while Robin Lopez registered a double-double with 19 points and a team-high 12 rebounds as the team bowed for the third straight game and fifth in its last six outings.

"When you lose a game, you feel it," New Orleans coach Monty Williams admitted. "But at the same time, I want them to be down. If they were happy after a loss, I'd still be in there."

Ryan Anderson gave the Hornets a lift with 17 points and six boards, while Brian Roberts stepped into the starting lineup and contributed 15 points and 11 assists in the losing cause.

New Orleans, playing without both Anthony Davis (strained MCL in left knee) and Greivis Vasquez (right ankle sprain), won the battle of the boards by a 48-41 margin, but hurt itself with a mere 17-of-32 shooting at the free throw line on the night.

Griffin led the way for the Clippers in the first quarter with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor in just over 10 minutes of action, but he was held scoreless in the second frame. Los Angeles were still ahead by three points, 43-40, at the break.

Lopez, who had as many offensive rebounds in the first half (six) as the entire Los Angeles squad, was responsible for 15 points and eight boards at the half for the hosts.

Free-throw shooting proved to be a huge issue for both sides in the first half, as New Orleans converted a dismal 5-of-16 at the charity stripe and the Clippers got to the line just five times, making three.

Griffin got his second wind in the third quarter, connecting on 4-of-7 from the field in order to generate eight points, but his teammates responded with just six combined points in the period to allow the Hornets to surge ahead by six, 63-57, heading into the fourth.

The Clippers then erupted for 39 points in the fourth quarter, getting 10 each from Paul and Crawford while the team hit on a sizzling 68.8 percent from the floor.

"We had no real energy and not real rhythm," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro noted of his team's effort. "Sometimes you have to roll the dice and it worked this time."

New Orleans led by as many as 10 points (75-65) with 6:31 remaining, but the momentum swung in the opposite direction down the stretch thanks to Paul and his conversions at the stripe.

However, Roberts knocked down a pair of jumpers -- one coming from 3-point range -- with less than 10 seconds remaining to cut the deficit to 94-93. A desperation heave from just beyond mid-court by Anderson fell far short at the buzzer, however.

Game Notes

The Hornets generated just 10 bench points, compared to 47 for the visitors ... Los Angeles has just three more games remaining on the regular-season schedule, including visits to Memphis and Sacramento and a home date versus Portland in between ... New Orleans, sitting in last place in the Southwest Division at 27-53, closes out with a home-and-home versus Dallas, the other team in the division that will miss the playoffs.