WASHINGTON — The Los Angeles Clippers didn’t travel over 6,000 air miles and play seven games in 13 days to go home with a losing road trip. Chris Paul made sure they didn’t.
The All-Star point guard efficiently dominated throughout with 38 points and 12 assists as Clippers hammered the Washington Wizards 113-97 on Saturday night.
Paul made 11 of 14 field goals including 5 of 7 3-pointers, and went 11 of 11 from the free throw line for the Clippers (16-9). He had 18 points and nine assists in the first half then pushed aside an attempted rally by Washington with 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“We wanted to try to this from an OK trip to a good trip,” said Paul after ensuring the Clippers head home with a 4-3 stretch. “We just wanted to win the game, the mentality, just win the game. There are a lot of factors. Long flight back home and we’ve got a lot of sore losers on this team.”
Los Angeles passed its way to a 13-point halftime lead, dunked plenty for a 23-point margin and maintained a double-digit cushion throughout the second half. Guard Jamal Crawford scored 17 points and center DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Entering the matchup, Paul made sure his teammates were aware of the game’s importance by deeming the contest a “must win.” Overstatement, yes. Effective message, clearly, yes.
“We’re going to make him say that every night,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers cracked.
Point guard John Wall led the Wizards (9-13) with 24 points, 12 assists and six turnovers. Since reaching .500 on Dec. 2, Washington lost four straight, the previous three by a combined seven points and twice in overtime.
“This was the first game where we truly had no chance to win,” said Wizards center Marcin Gortat, who had six points. “They were just way better.”
The Clippers shot 56.6 percent from the field with eight dunks and all five starters scored in double figures. The team made 26 of 31 free throws and 9 of 21 from beyond the arc before the crowd of 16,509. Forwards Blake Griffin and Jared Dudley each scored 16 points.
“Our guys, they were ready. You could hear them talking before the game, ” Rivers said, crediting Paul and Griffin’s leadership on the court and during timeouts, constantly providing encouragement for those feeling tired legs.
Washington played its third straight game and sixth this season without power forward Nene (right foot tendinitis). The Wizards have lost all of those games and eight straight without the Brazilian big man dating back to last season including Friday’s 101-99 overtime loss at Atlanta.
Center Kevin Seraphin reached double figures for the first time this season with 16 points for the Wizards, who shot 3 of 14 from beyond the 3-point arc. Forwards Trevor Booker and Martell Webster each added 12 points while swingman Trevor Ariza had 11.
Trailing 87-66 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Wizards pulled within 12 on multiple occasions including at 95-83 on Martell Webster’s jumper with 8:07 left. Paul countered with two jumpers, an assist on Griffin’s dunk and his fourth 3-pointer, pushing the lead back to a comfortable 104-86.
Matching Paul’s efficiency with his summation of the Clippers offensive attack, Ariza stated, “That was nasty.”
Paul, who played before 50 family members, conquered from the start, his imprint felt throughout the game. He had 10 points and six assists in the first quarter as the Clippers shot 61. 9 percent (13 of 21) for a 34-28 lead. In the second quarter scored or assisted on 12 of Los Angeles’ final 14 points as the Clippers led 59-46 at halftime. Los Angeles had 17 assists on 21 baskets.
The Clippers did not face a team with a .500 or better record on the trip.
Heading on a four-game road trip, the Wizards face a daunting challenge to even out their own record anytime soon.
Asked what the team must do to end the skid, Ariza said, “Not having excuses, digging in and getting a win. That’s the bottom line.”
Rivers wasn’t the only person who appreciated the Clippers communicative ways.
“That’s what good teams do, that’s what veteran teams do,” Ariza said. “We can learn something from that.”
NOTES: Replacing G Willie Green, Clippers sixth man Jamal Crawford made his first start since April 9, 2012. … Washington entered averaging a league-low 18.9 bench points, but had 26, led by C Kevin Seraphin’s 16. … Clippers G Chris Paul and Wizards G John Wall rank first and second, respectively, in assists, third and fourth in steals. … Los Angeles has another seven-game road trip from Jan. 17 to Jan. 27 before returning home for a rematch with Washington on Jan. 29. … The Wizards open a four-game road trip at the New York Knicks on Monday. … Los Angeles returns home to host the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.