Los Angeles Clippers outlast Brooklyn Nets, 101-95

USA TODAY Sports

When the Nets and Clippers met around Thanksgiving time, there was anticipation for another battle of two star PGs - taken one spot apart in the 2005 draft - who have been pitted against each other on the court, in the media and in fan discussions for their entire careers. They are inextricably linked, and when they are on the same floor, they are the focus.

But in their first meeting as Brooklyn Net and Los Angeles Clipper, neither of them were at their best. The battle was mostly fought by the big men, with Brook Lopez and the Nets coming out with a victory in a slow-paced game that favored the home squad.

This matchup was a little more like what was expected the first time. The guards played much more assertively, getting to the foul line and controlling the action, but this time the score climbed out of the 70s and 80s and into territory where the Clippers have an advantage. And when Jamal Crawford baited Williams into a lazy pass that gave him an easy basket with 48 seconds to go, followed on the next possession by Paul converting a spectacular floater in the lane complete with added free throw, it was clear who won this round.

The Clippers' guard rotation hammered the Nets all night. Paul had 28 points, 11 assists and was 12-13 from the line. Crawford and Willie Green combined for 28 points on 14-28 shooting. Eric Bledsoe even chipped in 7 points in 10 minutes. All-Star PF Blake Griffin was 4-11 for 11 points and had only 7 rebounds, but with the guards shredding the Nets, they hardly needed him.

Williams had a rough shooting night, going 2-8 from three point range and 6-16 overall. He still had 18 points and dished out 9 assists due to his attacking style. He continued to look much healthier despite not having his best game.

Lopez took only 14 shots in 33 minutes, and was effective - making 9 of them. In the previous matchup Lopez took 24 shots in the same 33 minutes and the Nets kept the pace slow, the score low, and won by 10.

Joe Johnson continued to look less than 100%, going 6-18 and 0-7 from deep. Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries (who finally got on the court and played just over 10 minutes) combined to shoot 1-8 and scored 10 points, most of those coming from Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro engaging in some "Hack an Evans" in the second quarter.

The Nets face the woeful Phoenix Suns tomorrow in the 4th game of their 8 game tour of America. The Suns are dead last in the West, but they were off today while the Nets played late and the game is an afternoon start - so the Nets should not overlook this game after a spirited effort tonight.

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