Crawford leads Clippers to 10th straight win

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Crawford leads Clippers to 10th straight win

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Los Angeles Clippers are learning to adapt.

Playing their fourth road game in seven nights, they could have easily been overrun by the often overlooked Detroit Pistons.

Not this club.

Jamal Crawford scored 15 points and Chris Paul added 14 to lead the weary Clippers to their 10th straight win, 88-76 over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

``We didn't shoot very well, and we didn't do a lot of things we wanted to do,'' said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. ``We just had a lot of guys make plays down the stretch and we get to go home with another win. Early in the season, we probably lose that game, but now we've gotten to the point where we can win ugly.''

No Clippers player scored more than 15 points, but they had five players score in double figures.

``This was a tough one, because we've been playing every other night and we're ready to go home,'' said Detroit native Willie Green. ``This was a great test for us, and we passed it.''

Blake Griffin also had 15 points for Los Angeles and Paul had seven assists. Griffin had two breakaway dunks in the last 30 seconds, one on a pass banked off the backboard by Matt Barnes.

``When I saw that it was just the two of us, I told him to keep coming,'' Barnes joked. ``I figured a lot more people wanted to see Blake dunk than wanted to see me lay one in.''

Brandon Knight led the Pistons with 16 and Tayshaun Prince added 15. Detroit, which committed 17 turnovers, lost its fifth straight.

``We did enough defensive things to win the game, but when you are going against a team that strips and steals the ball and is very aggressive, everything has to be sharp,'' said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank. ``We have to be more precise, and in the last six minutes, you know it is going to be harder against a team like that, but we have to be able to do it.''

Both teams struggled in the first half, with the Clippers taking a 42-40 lead into the intermission despite shooting just 39 percent. Detroit hit 42.5 percent of its shots, but managed only one free throw and two offensive rebounds. The Clippers tried for the last shot of the half, but Prince stole the ball and two quick passes gave Greg Monroe a wide-open layup at the buzzer.

Los Angeles got things in gear in the third quarter, quickly taking a 12-point advantage, but Griffin went to the bench with four fouls and Detroit was able to work its way back into the game.

The Pistons were within 63-60 at quarter's end behind 13 points from Prince, but couldn't keep up the pressure.

``We played a good first half, but once we turned it over a couple times in the third, we let them get out and do their thing,'' Prince said. ``We didn't execute in the second half, and that's when you need it the most.''

Detroit committed three turnovers in a period of four possessions and Jason Maxiell missed a pair of free throws on the fourth, allowing Los Angeles to take an 11-point advantage with 6:45 to play. Brandon Knight also missed a technical-foul free throw in the stretch.

``We weren't hitting a lot of shots, but we trusted our defense to make plays,'' Barnes said. ``That was the way we finally won the game.''

The Pistons kept up the pressure, pulling down four offensive rebounds on one possession in the last 90 seconds, but couldn't hit enough shots to make a serious rally.

``They turned on that playoff mentality, stepped up their defense and kind of shut us down,'' said rookie Andre Drummond. ``The fourth quarter has been an issue all year. We aren't closing games out.''

NOTES: Former Pistons All-Stars Chauncey Billups (foot) and Grant Hill (knee) were both inactive for the Clippers, while Rodney Stuckey (back spasms) missed the game for Detroit. Billups, the MVP of Detroit's championship win in 2004, received a loud ``Chaun-Cey!'' chant from the crowd during a fourth-quarter timeout. ... Several members of the University of Michigan football team attended the game, including team captains Denard Robinson and Jordan Kovacs. Robinson, who hasn't thrown a pass since late October due to an elbow injury, tossed a Nerf football to the Pistons mascot during a timeout.

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Markieff Morris' injury puts Wizards in bind early in playoff series vs. Celtics

Markieff Morris' injury puts Wizards in bind early in playoff series vs. Celtics

BOSTON – Just as Markieff Morris appeared to right himself after a bad stretch of basketball because of foul trouble in the first round, his availability for Game 2 vs. the Boston Celtics is in question after he came down on Al Horford’s foot and injured his troublesome left foot Sunday.

Morris, who first injured the foot and ankle in a game Nov. 19, has had problems with it on and off this season.

“I honestly thought it was broke,” he said after playing just 11 minutes in a 123-11l loss. “They got the swelling to go down a whole lot. It almost was the size of a softball.”

Morris didn’t return after halftime. He was held out a couple of games by the medical staff to help him recover in season.

“That’s my injury,” he said. “This was by far the worst one.”

[RELATED: Morris suffers gnarly-looking turned ankle in Game 1]

Morris only shot 2-for-7 from the field and had five points, but like the first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks no matter what his numbers show the Wizards are a better team with him on the floor.

Because Boston plays small a lot and Horford is an undersized center, Morris can match him away from the rim or under it. He called for the ball and cleared out so he could go vs. Horford and drained the jumper.

When Morris came down, however, he crashed hard. He remained sprawled across the floor for several minutes before walking it off and taking and making the foul shot for 45-42 lead.

The Wizards got out to a 16-0 start and could’ve had an easy victory to steal home-court advantage but now they’re faced with possibly trying to get the split with Morris not at full-speed.

“It was definitely tough especially when I felt like I could’ve been out there,” Morris said of watching the rest of the game from the locker room during treatment. “We live to fight another day. … It was only one game. We plan on it going seven.”

[RELATED: PHOTO: Celtics' Thomas lost front tooth in 1st quarter vs. Wizards]

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Barry Trotz puts option of dressing seven defensemen on the table

Barry Trotz puts option of dressing seven defensemen on the table

Karl Alzner has been out of the lineup since Game 2 of the Capitals’ first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Just who he will replace in the lineup when he is ready to return, however, has become a topic of debate as Nate Schmidt has played well in his place and the Caps need his speed against a quick Pittsburgh Penguins team.

RELATED: Trotz says Shattenkirk's play is 'mooring' Caps' third pair

It has been speculated recently that perhaps head coach Barry Trotz could elect to dress seven defensemen. That sounds like a drastic option, but it is one Trotz has experience with having utilized it at times as head coach of the Nashville Predators.

“I've done it before and done it very successfully,” Trotz said on Friday. “... I found in my previous life that I didn't have as many offensive weapons that gave me an opportunity to put an offensive weapon in there a little bit more often in a regular rotation.”

Dressing seven defensemen would mean only 11 forwards, but Trotz seems to only be utilizing that many anyway. Paul Carey skated only 5:40 in Game 2. He was playing in place of Brett Connolly who played 6:07, 5:34, 6:12 and 4:26 in his last four games.

Alzner is considered day-to-day and there’s no timetable for when he may be able to return. If he were able to play in Game 3 or 4, however, given that the Caps are facing a series deficit and seem to be in need of some sort of spark, perhaps shifting the lineup to seven defensemen could be just what the doctor ordered.

“I'm fine with the seven D,” Trotz said. “If we have to go there, we'll go there. As a coach, you have to mix and match a little bit. I don't have any problem with that.”

MORE CAPITALS: Barry Trotz commits to Braden Holtby for Game 3