LOS ANGELES — Blake Griffin dunked his way to 24 points in leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 106-84 blowout of the Charlotte Bobcats at the Staples Center.
Gerald Henderson finished with 24 for the Bobcats, (13-44), who lost their 11th game by 20 or more points this season.
The Clippers expanded a nine-point halftime lead to 19 in the third quarter, mostly on – you guessed it – dunks. In one particularly memorable move to the rim, Griffin anticipated a foul from Henderson. He switched the ball from right to left hand as Henderson made contact and still dunked with his off-hand to set up a three-point play.
Henderson did what he could to keep the Bobcats in the game, reaching 24 points with four minutes left in the third quarter.
It was a particularly quiet night for Bobcats rookie small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Coach Mike Dunlap started him each half, but Kidd-Gilchrist didn’t have a point or a rebound in his first 15 minutes, and was pulled early in the third quarter in favor of guard Ramon Sessions.
The Bobcats trailed 54-45 at halftime, after being outscored 15-3 down the stretch of the second quarter.
They got a great start, leading by as many as eight points in the first quarter and shooting 60 percent from the field. Shooting guard Henderson had a two-inch height advantage on Clippers counterpart Chauncey Billups, so he immediately worked Billups in the mid-post area for a series of turnaround jump shots.
Henderson made his first four attempts and ended the half shooting 7-of-10 for 14 points.
Power forward Byron Mullens broke a two-game slump – he’d shot 2-of-21 against the Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets – with 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half. Mullens made his first two attempts and five of his first 10.
A Ramon Sessions layup late in the first quarter gave the Bobcats a 30-22 lead, but then the Bobcats went scoreless in their first three possessions of the second quarter, as the Clippers trimmed the deficit to two. A Mullens tap-in made it 42-39 Charlotte with just under five minutes left, and then the bottom fell out:
Back-to-back turnovers by Kemba Walker and Mullens got the Clippers break started. No team in the NBA finishes with dunks better than the Clippers. Two alley-oop passes from Chris Paul to Griffin got thrown down and then Griffin dunked off a drive with 38 seconds left for the nine-point halftime margin.
The Bobcats have two days off between games before playing at Utah on Friday in Salt Lake City.