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Paul, Griffin lead Clippers past Kings 108-100

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, left, works against Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 1, 2012. Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, left, works against Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
By Antonio Gonzalez
AP Sports Writer / March 2, 2012
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SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Chris Paul had 22 points and nine assists, Blake Griffin added 14 points and nine rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers cruised past the Sacramento Kings 108-100 on Thursday night.

Mo Williams made all four of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to finish with 18 points, helping the Clippers build a 19-point lead and begin a stretch of four games in five nights with a victory. Los Angeles plays at Phoenix on Friday night.

DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Tyreke Evans scored 18 points for the Kings, who had won two straight. Sacramento still had some good news Thursday: The city and team announced a financing plan for a new $391 million arena that would keep the franchise in California's capital for at least another 30 years.

Sacramento's other rebuilding project remains a work in progress.

Griffin had two dunks -- including a soaring, uncontested tomahawk slam that had the home fans buzzing -- and Paul taunted the Kings bench after a pull-up jumper as the Clippers scored 11 straight points to go ahead 83-72 late in the third quarter.

The offense steamrolled Sacramento the rest of the way. Williams made four 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter, Los Angeles built a 19-point lead and never looked back.

Two teams that love to play aggressive clashed often.

Griffin had a trio of dunks in the first half to lift Los Angeles to a 10-point lead behind the team's usual high-flying theatrics. After the Clippers started to pull away, the muscling and tussling under the rim escalated.

As players headed to opposite benches during a timeout, Clippers big man Reggie Evans walked by Francisco Garcia with an elbow near the Sacramento forward's head. Garcia slapped his hand toward Evans' head and Los Angeles' Kenyon Martin joined in the scrum, getting whistled for a technical foul.

If only for a moment, the emotions fueled Sacramento's surge.

Rookie Jimmer Fredette made back-to-back 3-pointers -- the second coming well behind the line with Paul pressuring -- to give the Kings a 52-44 lead in the second quarter, bringing fans roaring to their feet, including co-owner Gavin Maloof leaping off the ground from his courtside seat next to his brother, Joe. Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who has led the charge for a new arena, also applauded from about 10 seats over.

The two sides are nearing the final step in an arena deal that seemed improbable a year ago. Sacramento and the Kings released the $391 million financing plan earlier Thursday night.

The City Council will vote on the project Tuesday night.

Notes: Kings F J.J. Hickson left in the third quarter with a lower back bruise. He is day to day. ... Kings G Isaiah Thomas was named NBA Western Conference rookie of the month for February. Thomas, the 60th and final pick of last year's NBA draft, led conference rookies in February in scoring (12.2 points per game) and was second in assists (4.4 per game).

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