LOS ANGELES (AP) Amar’e Stoudemire had 39 points and 11 rebounds, Danilo Gallinari scored 17 of his career high-tying 31 points in the fourth quarter, and the New York Knicks completed a three-game California sweep with a 124-115 victory over the league-worst Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
The Knicks, who ended a six-game losing streak with consecutive road wins over the Kings and Warriors, have won three games in California on the same trip for the first time. The Golden State has had at least three NBA teams since the 1978-79 season, when the Buffalo Braves moved to San Diego and were renamed the Clippers.
Rookie Blake Griffin had career highs of 44 points and seven assists while pulling down 15 rebounds for the 1-13 Clippers, off to their worst start since opening the lockout-delayed 1999 season 0-17. Eric Gordon added 25 points.
Stoudemire, who signed a five-year contract worth nearly $100 million in July after leaving the Phoenix Suns as a free agent, is averaging 26.9 points over his last seven games. The transition hasn’t been easy for the five-time All-Star, who publicly questioned his teammates’ heart following a home loss to Houston last Sunday.
Raymond Felton had 20 points for New York, one night after scoring a career-high 35 against the Warriors. Wilson Chandler, the first player off the Knicks’ bench, scored 10 points before fouling out with 3:37 left.
Los Angeles has dropped nine in a row under new coach Vinny Del Negro since beating Oklahoma City 107-92 – the team’s longest skid since a 12-game drought two seasons ago.
With center Chris Kaman missing his sixth straight game with a sprained left knee and point guard Baron Davis sidelined for the 10th time in 11 games with a swollen left knee, the Clippers were unable to contain Stoudemire and Felton.
But Griffin gave the crowd of 18,325 something worth remembering with 5:40 left in the third quarter – an in-your-face posterizing of Russian rookie Timofey Mozgov on a driving slam dunk in which Griffin balanced himself by putting his left hand on the right side of Mozgov’s face in midair. The first overall pick in the 2009 draft completed the three-point play after Mozgov’s face was called for a foul.
The Knicks, who lost their first 10 games against the Clippers at Staples Center before ending that drought with a 113-107 win last April, led by as many as 14 midway through the third. The Clippers got as close as 113-108 on a spinning dunk by Griffin around Gallinari, but the Knicks pulled away again.
There was an enormous disparity at the foul line during the first 21 minutes. The Knicks were 14 for 16 at that point, while the Clippers’ only free throw came on a three-point play by Gordon with 8:38 left in the second quarter. That imbalance, plus 13 turnovers by Los Angeles, helped the Knicks take a 58-53 halftime lead.
The lead changed hands 12 times in the half, and neither team led by more than six points until rookie Landry Fields made a layup in the opening minute of the third quarter. Fields, who came in leading all rookies with a 57.3 field goal percentage, converted a sloppy turnover by Griffin into a three-point point play that increased the margin to 66-57 with 8:52 left in the quarter.
Clippers rookie Al-Farouq Aminu, back to a reserve role after starting the previous four games at small forward, picked up three fouls during a 73-second span of the first quarter and was not a factor after scoring in double digits in three straight contests and five of his previous six.
NOTES: The Knicks began this four-game trip with a loss at Denver. … New York finished 43 for 51 on free throws and the Clippers were 22 for 29. … None of the teams the Knicks have beaten – Toronto, Chicago, Washington, Sacramento, Golden State and the Clippers – finished above .500 last season. Their combined record was 187-305. … The Knicks have had nine straight losing seasons since going 48-34 in 2000-01. The only franchises with longer streaks that didn’t include the lockout-shortened ’99 campaign were the Kansas City-Sacramento Kings (15) and the San Diego-L.A. Clippers (12).
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