Sixers fall to Clippers, 78-77

The NBA's reigning slam-dunk champion, Clippers big man Blake Griffin, gets loose for a thunderous throw-down.
The NBA's reigning slam-dunk champion, Clippers big man Blake Griffin, gets loose for a thunderous throw-down. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 11, 2012

Chris Paul went from potential goat to 76ers slayer.

The Los Angeles Clippers guard made the most of a reprieve and hit a fallaway 15-footer over the outstretched arms of Andre Iguodala with 3.2 seconds left to provide the difference in Friday's 78-77 win over the Sixers before 20,539 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Paul then made the key defensive play on the inbounds pass near half-court. Iguodala passed to Lou Williams, and Paul and teammate Kenyon Martin trapped the Sixers guard, who was unable to attempt a final shot.

"I caught it and they trapped right away, and when you have three seconds you can't get a look at the rim," Williams said.

Sixers coach Doug Collins said he deserved to take the heat for the final play.

"Whatever it was, it did not work," Collins said. "It was terrible on my part. Put down 'terrible' on my part."

Actually, much of the blame should go to Paul.

The Sixers had taken a 77-76 lead when Williams made two free throws with 18 seconds left.

On the final Clippers possession, Paul attempted to pass to Blake Griffin. It was an errant pass, but Griffin was able to dive, keep possession, and kick it out.

"When I threw the pass in between Blake's legs, I knew it was a turnover and I would beat myself up on the flight to Charlotte," Paul said. "Thank Blake Griffin for scrambling on the floor and saving it. Everybody is going to talk about the shot, but we don't get that shot if Blake doesn't save my tail."

And then Paul saved the Clippers' tail.

What made his spinning fallaway more impressive is that Iguodala had great defense on him.

"He does a good job using his body," Iguodala said of Paul. "He had less than an inch. I almost blocked it, and he did a good job of getting the shot off."

And, of course, making it.

"I looked up at the clock and saw I got a second chance of life and tried to get some separation, spin-step back," Paul said. "I missed two, three of those in the fourth quarter with the shot clock running down. I was hitting the back of the rim, but I got to keep shooting, and luckily it finally [went] in."

The Sixers (18-9) have suffered consecutive losses for the first time this year after Wednesday's home defeat to San Antonio. Los Angeles improved to 16-8.

Paul led the way with 24 points. He also had four assists and one turnover. Griffin added 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Iguodala and Elton Brand had 12 points for the Sixers.

The Clippers' Caron Butler broke a 74-74 tie with an off-balance foul line fallaway with 56.7 seconds left.

Iguodala then missed a 16- footer, and Paul missed a jumper over Thaddeus Young.

Sixers guard Jrue Holiday made the first of two free throws, but missed the second. Griffin got the rebound with 20.4 seconds left and the Clippers called time out, leading 76-75.

Los Angeles had to take another timeout because Ryan Gomes couldn't inbound the ball and the Clippers were almost called for a five-second violation. Gomes then threw an errant pass, and Butler fouled Williams going for the ball.

Williams hit both free throws, giving the Sixers a 77-76 lead with 18 seconds left.

That's when Paul provided the heroics, first on offense, then on defense.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, 856-779-3225 or @sjnard on Twitter.


 

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