LOS ANGELES • On a night when Paul George played only half a game, the Los Angeles Clippers had plenty in reserve.
Bench stars Montrezl Harrell scored 23 points and Lou Williams added 22 in a 126-112 National Basketball Association (NBA) home victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night that gave the Clippers consecutive wins for the first time since Dec 13.
Forward George, who is averaging 23.6 points this season, did not return after half-time because of left hamstring tightness. He finished with 12 points and was due to be evaluated yesterday.
"Nothing happened. He just felt tightness," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "We just decided not to bring him back."
Reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard scored 18 in three quarters for the Clippers (25-11), who had alternated wins and losses for nearly three weeks.
Bruce Brown led nine Pistons in double figures with 15 points. Andre Drummond added 10 points and 12 rebounds. Detroit (12-23) have lost four in a row on the road and eight of nine overall.
Trailing by nine, the Clippers took control in the second quarter. They outscored the Pistons 35-20, including runs of 9-0 and 10-0, to take a 69-63 lead into half-time. George hit back-to-back three-pointers and Leonard followed with another trey. Seven different Clippers scored in the spurts.
Points that the Detroit Pistons scored in the third quarter, against the 37 of the Los Angeles Clippers.
"Everybody is ready when their name is called," Harrell said.
"We're not really relying on one or two people. We just carried over our defensive mentality in the game and came out with a big win."
Once George was sidelined, his teammates stepped up.
Landry Shamet hit consecutive three-pointers that extended the lead to 18 points in the third. Maurice Harkless, who started, Williams and Harrell combined to score 13 of the Clippers' final 15 points and send them into the fourth leading 106-79.
"I enjoyed our third quarter coming out with energy and holding them to 16 points," Leonard said.
"We got out in transition, we ran the floor. We adjusted at half-time and did a good job defensively."
Detroit scored on consecutive possessions just once in the third.
"I suggested at half-time that we should play a little bit of defence cause we hadn't," Rivers said.
Harrell and Williams anchored the second unit in the fourth when the starters rested.
The Pistons outscored the Clippers 33-20 but the deficit was too big to overcome.
"I liked the way we started the game and the way we ended it," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
"I liked our intensity. If we had played like that in the third quarter it would have been interesting."
The Clippers improved to 15-3 at home, while the Pistons fell to 4-13 on the road.
Off the court, Rivers recalled that former NBA commissioner David Stern, who died on Wednesday, was the first person to ring him after he was fired as Orlando coach in 2003.
"I'm thinking, 'Wow, this is a cool thing'. When you get fired the commissioner calls," he said. "But he was calling me to tell me that tomorrow ABC was going to offer me the job and I better take it."
Rivers did, working as a TV commentator for one season before returning as Boston Celtics coach.
"He was the sheriff with love," he said of Stern. "People don't remember this league when he came in. This was a tough league. This was a drug-infested, image-problem league. David Stern came in and cleaned it up and kept it going."
ASSOCIATED PRESS, REUTERS