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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Paul delivers in final seconds for Clippers


LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul dribbled, his eyes darting to the shot clock, and kept dribbling. He was going to hold on to the ball and go for the win.

News photo
Passing fancy: Los Angeles' Chris Paul looks to pass against Portland's Luke Babbitt in the first half on Friday night. The Clippers edged the Trail Blazers 98-97. AP

Paul made a driving layup with 5 seconds to go, lifting the Los Angeles Clippers over the Portland Trail Blazers 98-97 on Friday night as they tied their season high with their fourth straight victory.

"This ain't my first time," he said, having successfully closed yet another win in the final seconds for the Clippers. "I thought they might trap, but as I saw them go away, I tried to attack and get to the rim."

The franchise that long was the laughingstock of the NBA has won 11 of its 20 games decided by five points or less. Paul has often been the catalyst, whether he scores himself or dishes off.

"He's so crafty with the ball. He's not a fast player, but he's deceptive," Portland's J.J. Hickson said. "It looks like he's going one way, and he's really going the other way. He has a crazy in-and-out, and he knows how to finish around the rim with a lot of bigs jumping toward the ball."

Paul, Blake Griffin and Randy Foye led six Clippers in double-figures with 20 points each. Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan had 12 each, and Nick Young added 10. Griffin had 13 rebounds and Paul had 14 assists as they moved within a game of the first-place Lakers in the Pacific Division.

"Guys made plays and Foye stepped up," Griffin said.

Hickson led the Blazers with a season-high 29 points and 13 rebounds, filling in for injured All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge.

Heat 113, Raptors 101

In Toronto, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored 30 points each and the Miami beat the Raptors, their seventh straight win over Toronto.

Mavericks 100, Magic 88

In Orlando, Dirk Nowitzki banked in a jumper with 5.9 seconds left and scored a game-high 28 points to lead Dallas past the Magic.

Wizards 97, 76ers 76

In Washington, Cartier Martin tied a career-high with 20 points in his second game under a 10-day contract, and the Wizards built a big lead and held on to it for a change, breaking a five-game losing streak.

Nuggets 99, Bobcats 88

In Charlotte, Arron Afflalo scored 12 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds as Denver held off the Bobcats.

Bucks 121, Cavaliers 84

In Cleveland, Brandon Jennings scored 28 points and Milwaukee routed the Cavaliers.

Hawks 100, Knicks 90

In Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 28 points and Willie Green carried the Hawks in the fourth quarter, leading Atlanta past former coach Mike Woodson and New York.

Celtics 100, Timberwolves 79

In Minneapolis, Kevin Garnett had 24 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in his return to Target Center and Boston outmuscled Kevin Love and Minnesota.

Rockets 98, Grizzlies 89

In Houston, Goran Dragic scored a season-high 25 points and Courtney Lee added 17 as the Rockets beat Memphis.

Bulls 83, Pistons 71

In Chicago, Luol Deng scored 20 points, Joakim Noah added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Bulls beat Detroit for the 14th straight time.

Kings 104, Jazz 103

In Salt Lake City, DeMarcus Cousins scored 27 points, including the winning free throw with 3.8 seconds left, to help Sacramento end a four-game losing streak.

Nets 102, Warriors 100

In Oakland, Gerald Green tied the score with a thundering one-handed dunk from the baseline, then added a go-ahead basket moments later and New Jersey rallied from 19 points down in the second half.

The Nets' Deron Williams dealt out an NBA season-high 20 assists in the victory.

Golden State's rookie center Jeremy Tyler started and scored a career-high 10 points.

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