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CP3 leads Clippers past injury-depleted Knicks

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 17, 2013 at 6:45 pm •  Published: March 17, 2013

New York understandably isn't faring well without the NBA's second-leading scorer and its seventh-leading rebounder, but is hoping Anthony and Chandler will bounce back from injuries that wouldn't allow them to finish the Knicks' game against the Nuggets four days earlier.

Anthony left in the third quarter of his long-anticipated return to Denver, and eventually needed fluid drained from his right knee, making his return uncertain. Chandler bruised his left knee in Denver, and both stars missed the Knicks' visit to Portland last Thursday night.

New York also is still without Stoudemire, who will be out for at least six more weeks after recently undergoing surgery on his right knee. The Knicks finish their trip in Utah on Monday night.

"We know we're a few men down and we can make excuses, but we're not going to make excuses, man," said Kenyon Martin, who had four points and nine rebounds while starting and playing 28 minutes. "Guys have pride. We're going to compete every night, no matter who's playing for us. It's tough. We gave ourselves a chance early in the third quarter and didn't back down, but it was an uphill battle from there."

The Clippers are getting healthier, with Butler hitting four 3-pointers in his return to the starting lineup despite a strained left elbow. But point guard Eric Bledsoe missed his third straight game with a sore left calf, and Ronny Turiaf was inactive with a sore left knee.

Los Angeles led 79-60 before Steve Novak hit two 3-pointers during a 12-3 run. New York got within 10 points, but Paul and Lamar Odom hit key shots down the stretch.

With a nine-game lead over Golden State, the Clippers are coasting to the first division title in the franchise's 43-year history dating back to its origin as the Buffalo Braves. With its second straight postseason trip all but certain, Los Angeles is four wins away from surpassing the single-season franchise record of 49 victories, and five home wins shy of setting that mark as well.

"It's not tough (to stay focused), because we haven't been playing the style that we want to play," Paul said. "We can get better, so it's important for us to focus on these last 15 games."

NOTES: Chandler, a Los Angeles native, leads the NBA in field goal percentage (.645). ... Smith converted a four-point play in the final minute of the third quarter. ... Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and New York's Iman Shumpert wore green shoes for St. Patrick's Day.