Highlights: Kings squander late lead against Clippers
DeMarcus Cousins had 23 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists in a 103-102 loss to the Clippers last week. (USATSI)
Programming note: Clippers-Kings coverage tips off at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet California (territory restrictions may apply)
The high-scoring Los Angeles Clippers have finally put up a few strong defensive efforts, though the competition had more to do with the results than anything else.
After winning for the first time this season without topping 100 points, the Clippers may have to rely on defense if their star point guard is slowed by an injury.
The Clippers seek their fourth straight victory overall and third in a row in Sacramento when they meet the Kings on Friday night.
Los Angeles (11-5) had been 0-3 when failing to reach 100 points before Wednesday's 93-80 victory over New York.
The win followed a 121-82 blowout of Chicago on Sunday, but the Clippers shouldn't be too excited over clamping down on a plummeting Knicks team that has lost seven straight and a Bulls squad reeling from another season-ending knee injury to Derrick Rose.
Los Angeles had been allowing 104.9 points per game prior to those victories.
Blake Griffin had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Chris Paul had 15 points and seven assists against New York before leaving with a strained right hamstring.
"It's definitely a sign that things are going in the right direction," said Paul, who seemed confident he'll play Friday. "We're solid. We're starting to know where each other are going to be on both ends of the court. We have to do it consistently, especially on the defensive end, but we're getting there."
The Clippers have primarily relied on an offense that is second in the NBA with 107.0 points per game, and that was certainly the case in two wins over the Kings this month. Los Angeles won 110-101 in Sacramento on Nov. 1 and narrowly beat the Kings 103-102 at home Saturday.
[RECAP: Clippers 103, Kings 102]
"We're not going to win too many games on the offensive end, even as well as we're playing," point guard Darren Collison said Wednesday. "Defense is where it's at, and we did a good job tonight."
The Kings rallied from a 20-point deficit Saturday, and the Clippers needed a go-ahead free throw from Paul with 2.5 seconds left to hang on. Paul's record streak of 13 straight games with at least 10 points and 10 assists to start a season ended when he finished with nine assists in that one.
Sacramento, which has dropped 11 of 13 against the Clippers, followed Saturday's game with another defeat at Staples Center the next day in a 100-86 loss to the Lakers.
The Kings (4-9) scored only 13 in the third quarter and missed matching their season low for points by one.
Greivis Vasquez led Sacramento with 20 points and DeMarcus Cousins added 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Friday's game will likely feature the Kings debut of former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, who was acquired Tuesday from Minnesota. Williams will be looking to establish himself after being stuck behind All-Star Kevin Love with the Timberwolves.
Williams was playing fewer than 15 minutes a game this season and was averaging just 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds.
"I think my style of play and (Wolves coach Rick Adelman's) system just didn't really match up," he said. "I've never been a fifth option before. It was kind of tough trying to make plays and overdoing it sometimes."
The 22-year-old forward, who practiced with the Kings for the first time Wednesday, could form a formidable frontcourt tandem with Cousins.
He's shown flashes of that potential, particularly during a 12-game stretch last season starting Feb. 24 when he averaged 18.7 points. Love missed most of last season with a broken hand, giving Williams increased minutes.