LOS ANGELES — The Clippers’ starters built an 18-point lead in a torrid opening quarter only to see the reserves blow it all by halftime, leading to an angry locker room.
The starters got most of it back in third and the Clippers went on to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 120-100 on Saturday night for their seventh straight victory.
“That’s the most upset I’ve seen our team at halftime,” coach Doc Rivers said. “The lesson for the second unit was make your own day. In the fourth quarter, the second unit came in and finished the job this time.”
Blake Griffin scored 30 points, going over 7,000 for his career, and made 10 of 15 free throws as one of just two starters to get fouled.
J.J. Redick scored 13 of his 21 points in the first quarter, Jamal Crawford added 20, Chris Paul had 18 points and 16 assists, and DeAndre Jordan had 18 rebounds for Los Angeles.
Earlier in the season, the Clippers wouldn’t have handled faltering in such a way. But they’ve grown during their current winning streak, which began with four straight wins during a recent seven-game trip.
“You can’t figure out whose fault it is, you’ve got to find a solution,” Paul said. “We let our defense create our offense.”
Defensively, Griffin did a job on Pelicans star Anthony Davis, who scored 26 points but was held to a season-low three rebounds.
“To go against a guy like that is fun,” Griffin said. “Just keep a body on him. It was a team effort.”
Ryan Anderson scored 16 off the bench, Luke Babbitt had 12 after making four of five 3-pointers, and Omar Asik had 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which has dropped two straight and five of six.
“They shot the ball extremely well, but our first and third-quarter defense let us down,” Pelicans coach Monty Williams said.
The Clippers led by 18 early in the second quarter, only to watch the Pelicans tie it at 54-all at halftime. New Orleans shot 74 percent and made 5 of 6 3-pointers in the quarter, when Anderson led the way with 12 points. Babbitt hit a 3-pointer for the tie with 28 seconds left.
“We were sharing the ball, moving the ball, and we didn’t care who scored. It was fun,” Davis said. “But at the same time, it wasn’t enough. I think I can do a better job of moving the ball even more and making the extra pass. But at the same time, the guys have to be more aggressive.”
The Pelicans took their only lead of the game, 56-54, to start the third on a hook by Omer Asik. From there, the Clippers gradually pulled away to another double-digit lead on a 3-pointer by Paul. They stretched it to 93-78 at the end of the third on Paul’s running layup.
Redick capped his red-hot opening quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, giving the Clippers a 34-18 lead after they shot 65 percent.
The Pelicans got back in it in the second with their five 3-pointers. Anderson had two 3s, Austin Rivers added one and Babbitt hit the tying 3 just before halftime.
Pelicans: G Eric Gordon, a former Clipper, remains out with a left shoulder injury. ... The Pelicans have lost four straight to the Clippers at Staples Center.
Clippers: Jordan was the other starter who went to the line, where he missed his only free throw attempt. ... Led by Redick’s five, the Clippers made a season-high 17 3-pointers. ... Longtime play-by-play man Ralph Lawler missed the game after having surgery to break up a kidney stone. The 76-year-old announcer tweeted it was the first game he’d ever missed because of injury or illness. ... G Jordan Farmar (back spasms), G Reggie Bullock (right ankle sprain) and G Chris Douglas-Roberts (strained right Achilles) sat out.
Griffin’s layup late in the second gave him 7,001 points, making the four-year veteran the second-quickest in franchise history behind Bob McAdoo to reach that mark. He finished the game with 7,018.
Former Dallas guard Gal Mekel was scoreless playing 10:47 of his first game since being signed a day earlier. He was released by the Mavericks after the preseason.
“I’m still learning our system, our offense and our plays,” he said. “Conditioning-wise, I felt good. I’m still a little rusty, but in another few days I will be in good shape.”
Pelicans: At Lakers on Sunday.
Clippers: Host Phoenix on Monday.