Rivers flys high after Clippers win over Knicks

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LOS ANGELES -- Win or lose, LOS ANGELES Clippers coach Doc Rivers was scheduled to end Wednesday night boarding a late-night flight to Orlando, Fla., where he will spend Thanksgiving Day with his family Thursday before heading back west on Friday.

The Clippers made sure Rivers at least enjoyed fight with a 93-80 win over the New York Knicks at the sold out Staples Center.

How much Rivers enjoys the holidays -- and beyond -- might rest on the status of Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who left the game in the third quarter with a right hamstring strain and did not return to action.

Paul did join his teammates on the bench for the final two minutes of the game, his right leg wrapped in ice and appearing in good spirits.

Afterward he vowed to suit up when the Clippers play Friday against the Sacramento Kings.

"It's a little tight but I'll be ready to go by Friday," Paul said

The Clippers (11-5) carried on without their All-Star point guard, alternately sprinting to double digit leads and giving up spurts by the Knicks. It was good enough for the Clippers to stay ahead of New York, but certainly not sufficient to comfortably put the Knicks away until one final push over the tail end of the fourth quarter.

By then the Clippers led 90-78 with 2:48 remaining and the Clippers were on their way to their third straight win and eighth over the last nine.

"When someone goes down someone's gotta step up," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. "Hopefully he's alright."

The Knicks (3-11) dropped their seventh straight game.

"It was a game of runs," Knicks point guard Raymond Felton said. "They made their runs, made their stops, hit their shots. Got some calls. And we go down by double digits."

Paul, Griffin and guard J.J. Redick each scored 15 points to lead the Clippers, with Griffin adding 13 rebounds.

"We didn't want to have a letdown against these guys." Griffin said. "I'm proud the way we stayed with it."

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony had 27 points for the Knicks and center Andrea Bargnani added 20 but only Felton, with 12, joined them in double figures thanks to New York's 38.6 percent field goal shooting.

"I thought some of the shots we took ... we had wide open shots. It's just, we're struggling to score," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We've got too many gaps right now. We had three guys in double figures; we need five, six guys in double figures. That's how we played last year."

But they aren't, hence the 3-11 record to start the season.

"It hurts. It's something no team wants." Felton said. "We don't want it. We're not used to it. It's mind boggling. I really can't put it in words. But we've got to keep fighting and figure this thing out.

The Clippers led 40-29 in the second quarter, but a four-minute scoring drought enabled the Knicks to come roaring back with a 13-0 run that gave them a 42-40 lead.

Paul eventually ended the Knicks run with a free throw, followed by a three by forward Jared Dudley and the Clippers were back on top, eventually taking a 49-45 lead into halftime with a 9-3 run to end the second quarter.

Still, it was another example of the Clippers inability to bury opponents, an issue that has plagued them this year as they battle through long stretches of inconsistency.

"I don't think we ever established pace the way we wanted to tonight," Rivers said. "Give New York credit, they had something to do with that."

NOTES: Knicks PG Raymond Felton, who missed the last four games with a hip injury, was back in the lineup against the Clippers despite not being completely healthy. The Knicks dropped all four games that Felton missed to last place in the Atlantic Division. ... After sitting on the bench for all 14 games to start the season, Clippers F Antawn Jamison finally got some run on Sunday in a win over the Bulls and responded with 11 points in 15 minutes. He was back in action Wednesday against the New York Knicks and seems to have earned a spot in the rotation. "He's great," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "He fits that unit so well because with Jamal able to score and DC's speed, an extra shooter is a terrific. Moving forward I will try to use him, except in back-to-back games."

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