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Cleveland Cavaliers foul DeAndre Jordan, beat Los Angeles Clippers

By The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 22, 2016 at 12:41 AM
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CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt doesn't like to intentional foul and has even referred to it as unsavory. But with his team still reeling from Monday's blowout loss at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, Blatt is willing to try anything these days including following rules he doesn't even like.

Kevin Love scored 18 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and LeBron James had 22 points and 12 assists in the Cavaliers 115-102 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

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One night after Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond shot 36 free throws largely from intentional fouls, the Cavs used the controversial hacking strategy on center DeAndre Jordan late in the third quarter and again in the fourth. Jordan, a 42 percent shooter from the line this season, shot 6-for-15 from the line Thursday and finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

"I still don't like it," Blatt said. "I liked it tonight, but I still don't like it."

Cavs forward James Jones fouled Jordan four times in a span of 1:21 late in the third quarter. Jordan shot 3-for-8 during that stretch, and Cleveland extended a nine-point lead to 88-72 by the time Jordan exited the game and the Cavs stopped fouling.

This wasn't the first time Blatt tried the strategy with a lead, but this one worked out much better. The Cavs began fouling Drummond earlier this season at Detroit when they held a slim four-point lead in the fourth quarter. Drummond made 3-of-4 and the Pistons ultimately took the lead en route to a victory.

Although a number of teams prefer to use the intentional fouls when they're trailing, both Blatt and Clippers coach Doc Rivers said statistics support using it when leading.

"Very few teams do it, but that's the proper way because it prevents you from making a run especially a team like us that can score," Rivers said. "They did a good job of that. Statistically it shows that if you foul when you're down you rarely win, but when you foul when you're up you win a lot. So they did it the right way."

The Clippers rallied once the Cavs stopped fouling. A basket from Paul pulled them within 93-87 in the fourth, but a 3-pointer from Love extended the lead back to nine, and the Cavs quickly began fouling Jordan again. The strategy pushed the lead to double figures.

The Cavs won for the 13th time in the past 14 meetings against the Clippers and improved to 18-3 against them all time at Quicken Loans Arena.

Clippers guard Chris Paul had 30 points and nine assists, including 12 consecutive points in the first quarter to keep Los Angeles close. But an opponent scored at least 110 points for the third consecutive game against the Clippers.

"Our defense has been unacceptable," Paul said. "We're not being disciplined. It's not on the coaches. It's us."

The Clippers shot 41 percent after the first quarter. Guard J.J. Redick, who entered shooting 50 percent from 3-point range, scored 17 points while shooting 2-for-6 on 3-pointers. The Clippers shot 6-for-25 from deep after making 22 3-pointers Monday in an overtime win against the Houston Rockets.

The victory against a top Western Conference team was important for the Cavs, who were blown out Monday by the Warriors and remain 0-3 against Golden State and the San Antonio Spurs, the two top teams from the West. The Clippers aren't quite in that elite category, but they are not far behind.

Blatt bristled Thursday at some of the criticism lobbed at his team in the days since the 34-point loss to the Warriors. The Cavs remain the top team in the East at 30-11, a nine-game improvement over where they were at the halfway point last season.

"I hear a lot of far-reaching conclusions and personally I don't like it," Blatt said. "But there's nothing I can do about it. I think this team has done pretty well dealing with the adversity that we've had. I think this team is in pretty good position, although people choose to overlook that, which I don't think is fair."

Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and guard J.R. Smith scored 22, hitting six 3-pointers. All five Cavs starters were in double figures with four minutes left in the third quarter.

"When the ball is moving and the ball has energy behind it, it doesn't matter who receives it, I think it results in good play," James said. "Tonight was an example of that."

NOTES: F LeBron James was named the Cavaliers' lone All-Star starter after G Kyrie Irving was passed by Toronto G Kyle Lowry during the final week of voting. James led the conference again with 1,089,026 votes. The Cavaliers can still add a second All-Star if Kevin Love is selected as a reserve. ... Cavs G J.R. Smith moved ahead of Glen Rice for 19th place on the all-time 3-point shooting list. Smith now has 1,564 for his career. ... Clippers G J.J. Redick entered Thursday shooting 50 percent from 3-point range. "That's crazy," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "I had a 53 percent year from the free-throw line." ... The Clippers are rarely mentioned among the Spurs and Warriors as the West's elite, but they still get their share of attention. "We somehow find our own attention," Rivers joked. "We do it every time. I don't know how that happens. We'll do something in the next couple of days to make sure you guys talk about us."

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