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Without Griffin, Clippers fall 98-90 to Wizards

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 4, 2013 at 10:10 pm •  Published: February 4, 2013
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers were missing Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The Washington Wizards won the game.

Tread carefully around Randy Wittman when trying to connect those two thoughts.

"Hey, listen, we played enough games this year without players," the Wizards coach said. "Don't give me the (bull) about who was here and who wasn't here. ... You guys would have printed it a wholly different other way if we had lost. ... Now you're going to print, 'Ah, you won because Blake didn't play.' Give me a break."

To be fair, the outburst was more playful than angry, but the point is well-taken. The Wizards will happily take Monday night's 98-90 win — or any victory for that matter — in a season that was essentially wrecked from the get-go in part because of injuries to John Wall and Nene.

Now it's the Clippers who are close to falling off the rails, having lost seven of nine — including six of eight without Paul. Los Angeles is 1-3 halfway through an eight-game road trip and has fallen 4½ games off the Western Conference lead.

"It's frustrating because we're giving back a lot of what we had built up earlier in the season," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "But you can't control the injuries, you can't control the schedule, you can't control so many guys being out."

Paul missed his eighth consecutive game and 11th of the last 13 with a bruised right kneecap, while Griffin's streak of 197 consecutive games played ended when he was a last-minute scratch with a strained left hamstring.

"We were walking out (to the court) and he was walking in," Del Negro said.

Del Negro said he knew the hamstring had been bothering Griffin, who leads the Clippers in scoring and rebounding with 18.5 points and 8.6 boards per game. The coach declined to speculate when Griffin would return. The road trip continues against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," Del Negro said.

Griffin had started every game since he essentially became an NBA player at the start of the 2010 season, having sat out in 2009-10 with a knee injury after he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Clippers.

Nevertheless, his teammates were in the game until a spate of turnovers and a pair of offensive rebounds by Wizards forward Nene spurred a 7-0 run by Washington late in the fourth quarter.

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