After officials whistled Sacramento's Francisco Garcia for a technical foul for a late push that sent Paul into the basket's padding, Cousins shoved Griffin amid a small scrum that broke out under the hoop in the first quarter. They pushed and pulled each other for a rebound on the next possession, exchanging words nose to nose, and officials talked to each privately during a timeout.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro sat Griffin the first 7:30 of the second quarter, and Martin and Reggie Evans — players who've carved out careers with punishing plays — led a defensive charge that stymied Sacramento and Cousins. Los Angeles outscored the Kings 17-7 to begin the period, opening a 44-30 lead with most of its stars on the bench.
Sacramento answered with 12 straight points behind a flurry of foul shots as officials tried to keep the physical play from getting out of control. Paul and Griffin returned, and the Clippers pushed ahead 48-42 at halftime.
Cousins picked up his fourth foul reaching in against Griffin with 10:49 remaining in the third quarter, relegating Sacramento's big man — who has been surging since Smart took over for the fired Paul Westphal after a 2-5 start — to the bench until 4:35 left in the fourth. Los Angeles built a 65-54 lead at one point during that span.
"I thought it got a little bit physical there," Del Negro said. "But Blake did a really good job of keeping his composure."
NOTES: Clippers G Mo Williams sat out with a sprained left big toe. Williams hopes to play Saturday night when the Clippers host Sacramento in Los Angeles. ... The Kings played without G Marcus Thornton (bruised left calf) and reserve F John Salmons (sore right hip) for the second straight game.
Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP
- Past few days 'difficult' for former...
- Defending champ Serena Williams at Wimbledon...
- Chile wins 2nd straight Copa America title as...
- Messi's retirement from Argentina could hurt...
- Most common names of NBA players this season
- Injured Lochte plows ahead in 200 free at US...
- Djokovic beat James Ward to open bid for 5th...
- Durant, Anthony lead US Olympic basketball team
- Kalani Sitake on BYU-Utah rivalry: 'I... 83
- Morning links: Colin Cowherd compares... 62
- Sitake not intimidated by BYU's arduous... 59
- Dick Harmon: 1996 Cotton Bowl champion... 51
- Morning Links: BYU basketball fans... 44
- 10 takeaways from BYU football media day 29
- Utah football: Williams, McCormick... 21
- Sitake making transition from longtime... 20