Paul leads Clippers to decisive win over Warriors

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LOS ANGELES -- The disappointment of an opening-night loss was decisively exorcised by the Los Angeles Clippers with a 126-115 win over the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center on Thursday night.

All it took were a slew of thunderous alley-oop dunks by Blake Griffin, a whole lot of Chris Paul and a statement win over the Warriors -- who the Clippers figure to wage a season-long battle with in the Pacific Division.

Paul, shaking off a slow first-night in Tuesday's loss to the Lakers, scored 42 points 15 assists and six steals -- 15 points coming in the fourth quarter to help the Clippers hold off the Warriors.

"He was everywhere," said Clippers guard Jamal Crawford. "That was an unbelievable performance."

Griffin finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 3:53 in the final period.

Six of those points came in succession in the third quarter on three resounding dunks to put the Clippers ahead by 18 points.

"If that two minute span doesn't happen it's a close game the rest of the way," said Warriors forward David Lee.

But it did.

"You're sitting there thinking, 'did that really happen?'" Crawford said. "Because it happened bam, bam, bam right in a row."

The Warriors stayed relatively close in the fourth quarter, thanks mostly to hot shooting Stephen Curry, who scored 16 points over the first six minutes of the quarter to cut the lead to right points.

But Paul took over from there in the decisive win.

"They played better than us, give them credit," Lee said.

Warriors coach Mark Jackson agreed.

"Just a tough night all the way around," he said.

Curry finished with 38 points while sinking 14 of 23 shots, including 9 of 14 three-pointers.

Lee added 22 points before fouling out in the fourth, Andre Iguodala scored 14 points and 11 assists and Andrew Bogut had 17 points for the Warriors.

One night after torching the Lakers for 38 points, Klay Thompson had just 10 points against the Clippers on 3 of 7 shooting.

"They shot 52 percent and made unbelievable shots but I was really happy with our defense overall," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

Paul, meanwhile, was brilliant while sinking 12 of 20 shots and 16 of 17 free throws.

"He was awesome," said Rivers. "He had a lot of points but I also liked how he ran the team. We had that one stretch where we struggled, but I called a timeout and we go right back to running the offense. That's so important for us."

The Clippers and Warriors finished one-two in the Pacific Division last year, with the Clippers winning their first division title in franchise history.

"It was a playoff type feel tonight, you could sense it," Crawford said. "There was a different feel. An intense feeling. We both want the same thing."

NOTES: The flight from Oakland to LOS ANGELES is a little over an hour in length, so the Warriors had every reason to believe they'd arrive in L.A. at a relatively decent hour after their home game against the Lakers on Wednesday night. But mechanical problems resulted in a canceled flight, massively changed plans and a noon arrival in L.A. Thursday afternoon. "We're a no excuse team," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "And we're not the first NBA team to go through something like this."...Clippers coach Doc Rivers is a big fan of the Warriors, claiming they are the team the Clippers are trying to catch up to. "That's just Doc being Doc," Jackson said, noting the Clippers finished ahead of the Warriors in the standings last year.

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