WASHINGTON — The Los Angeles Clippers were missing Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The Washington Wizards won the game.
Tread carefully around Randy Wittman when trying to connect those two thoughts.
"Hey, listen, we played enough games this year without players," the Wizards coach said. "Don't give me the (bull) about who was here and who wasn't here. ... You guys would have printed it a wholly different other way if we had lost. ... Now you're going to print, 'Ah, you won because Blake didn't play.' Give me a break."
To be fair, the outburst was more playful than angry, but the point is well-taken. The Wizards will happily take Monday night's 98-90 win — or any victory for that matter — in a season that was essentially wrecked from the get-go in part because of injuries to John Wall and Nene.
Now it's the Clippers who are close to falling off the rails, having lost seven of nine — including six of eight without Paul. Los Angeles is 1-3 halfway through an eight-game road trip and has fallen 4½ games off the Western Conference lead.
"It's frustrating because we're giving back a lot of what we had built up earlier in the season," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "But you can't control the injuries, you can't control the schedule, you can't control so many guys being out."
Paul missed his eighth consecutive game and 11th of the last 13 with a bruised right kneecap, while Griffin's streak of 197 consecutive games played ended when he was a last-minute scratch with a strained left hamstring.
"We were walking out (to the court) and he was walking in," Del Negro said.
Del Negro said he knew the hamstring had been bothering Griffin, who leads the Clippers in scoring and rebounding with 18.5 points and 8.6 boards per game. The coach declined to speculate when Griffin would return. The road trip continues against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.
"We'll see how he feels tomorrow," Del Negro said.
Griffin had started every game since he essentially became an NBA player at the start of the 2010 season, having sat out in 2009-10 with a knee injury after he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Clippers.
Nevertheless, his teammates were in the game until a spate of turnovers and a pair of offensive rebounds by Wizards forward Nene spurred a 7-0 run by Washington late in the fourth quarter.
"When you're a championship-level team, you have high expectations," said Jamal Crawford, who scored 28 points to lead the Clippers. "And we do, no matter who's in and who's out. Obviously we're missing some of our better players, but no excuse."
Martell Webster scored 21 points, Nene and Garrett Temple had 15 points apiece, Emeka Okafor grabbed 14 rebounds, and Wall had 13 points and eight assists for the Wizards, who broke a four-game losing streak and moved a game ahead of the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats.
DeAndre Jordan had a career-high 22 rebounds for the Clippers. Eric Bledsoe, going toe-to-toe with Wall in a duel between former Kentucky teammates, had 17 points and nine assists.
The game turned when Nene grabbed a high-bouncing rebound off of his own missed free throw to set up a 3-pointer by Trevor Ariza, then corralled another offensive board on the next possession and fed Temple for a jump shot that gave the Wizards an 87-79 lead with 3:53 remaining.
Still, the finish was too close for comfort for Wittman, especially after the Wizards had scored 51 points in the first half.
"It wasn't all artistic for us," Wittman said. "We still had ups and downs from an offensive standpoint. ... We seem to forget how we scored the 51. If my forehead's red, (it's from) banging the wall."
PACERS 111, BULLS 101
INDIANAPOLIS — David West scored 29 points and Paul George had 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, leading Indiana past short-handed Chicago for a share of the Central Division lead.
The Pacers have won three straight and extended their home winning streak to 14, matching the team's longest since 2002-03.
Marco Belinelli had a season-high 24 points and Nate Robinson had 19 to lead the Bulls, who lost for only the third time in nine games. The Bulls played again without starting guards Kirk Hinrich (elbow), Derrick Rose (knee) and center Joakim Noah (foot). The Bulls also survived a scare when Belinelli crashed to the floor clutching his right ankle late in the first quarter.
Indiana seized control with a 15-4 run in the third quarter that made it 79-67 with 4:13 to go. Chicago never got closer than four the rest of the way.
HEAT 99, BOBCATS 94
MIAMI — LeBron James scored 31 points and Chris Bosh added 23 to lead Miami to its 10th consecutive victory over Charlotte.
Dwyane Wade had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, who have won nine of their last 10 at home. James was 13 for 14 from the field, for a career-best 93 percent shooting. The Heat improved to 19-3 on their home floor.
Ramon Sessions scored 18 points for Charlotte, which lost its fourth in a row and 12th in the last 14. Ben Gordon had 16 points as six Bobcats players scored in double digits.
KNICKS 99, PISTONS 85
NEW YORK— Tyson Chandler tied a franchise record with his third straight 20-rebound game, Carmelo Anthony scored 27 points, and New York cruised to its fifth consecutive victory.
In a game that was decided early, Chandler played long enough to grab his 20th rebound midway through the fourth quarter. After grabbing 20 in victories on Friday and Saturday night, he became the first Knicks player to have 20 in three straight games since Hall of Famer Willis Reed in December 1969.
Newly acquired Jose Calderon scored 15 points in his Detroit debut, while Greg Monroe had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
THUNDER 112, MAVERICKS 91
OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 24 points, Kevin Durant had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Oklahoma City avoided a third straight overtime game against Dallas.
The Mavericks had tied the first two meetings this season with 3-pointers at the very end, but there was no such drama the third time around.
Oklahoma City led by at least 20 throughout the second half, winning for the 10th time in 11 meetings between the teams since Dallas beat the Thunder in the 2011 Western Conference finals on its way to the NBA championship. That includes a four-game sweep of the Mavs in the first round of last year's playoffs.
Shawn Marion was the lone bright spot for Dallas, hitting 10 of 14 shots and scoring 23 points.
TRAIL BLAZERS 100, TIMBERWOLVES 98
MINNEAPOLIS — LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 13 rebounds to help Portland avoid a late collapse against Minnesota.
Wes Matthews scored 22 points and Damon Lillard added 21 points for the Blazers, but they each had five of the team's season-high 28 turnovers. The Blazers never trailed in the game, but the Wolves had a chance to tie or win in the end. Ricky Rubio swung the ball to Dante Cunningham, whose 19-footer fell short.
Rubio had 10 of his career-high-tying 14 assists in the fourth quarter and finished with a season-high 15 points in a season-high 34 minutes. Cunningham scored a career-high 23 points on 11 for 17 shooting, and J.J. Barea added 17 points.
JAZZ 98, KINGS 91 OT
SALT LAKE CITY — Randy Foye had 20 points, including six in overtime, and Utah defeated Sacramento in overtime.
Paul Millsap added 14, with a key block, step-back jumper and rebound in the extra session for the Jazz, who used an 8-0 fourth-quarter run to take the lead with 2:40 left in regulation.
Utah had a chance to win it in regulation, but big man Al Jefferson shot an air ball 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Jason Thompson led the Kings with a season-high 23 points, and Tyreke Evans added 20 but had a key turnover in overtime.
Sacramento played the second half without leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins, who was ejected for arguing with officials at midcourt during the halftime break.
Cousins started 4 of 4 and finished 5 of 8 with 10 points and six rebounds.
76ERS 78, MAGIC 61
PHILADELPHIA — Spencer Hawes had 21 points and 14 rebounds and Jrue Holiday had 13 points and 14 assists to lead Philadelphia to its third straight win.
Nick Young had 15 points for the Sixers, who won three straight games for the first time since the final three games of November.
Orlando listed six players as inactive in its 10th straight loss. E'Twaun Moore had 18 points and Nik Vucevic grabbed 14 rebounds.