LOS ANGELES -- Maybe it was the green shoes. Or perhaps it was the early tip-off time.
Most likely it was a combination of both while also playing a depleted opponent looking more like a lottery team than a championship contender.
Whatever the case, it took the Los Angeles Clippers a little while to shake the cobwebs off Sunday against the injury-ravaged New York Knicks at Staples Center, sloshing about through a sluggish first half before waking up in the third quarter to finally take control.
The result was a 93-80 get-through-it victory in which the Clippers played down to the Knicks' level in the first half but had more than enough to pull away when needed.
The Knicks, once again playing without stars Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire, did what they could to hang around, but when push came to shove in the second half simply could not match the firepower of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the litany of Clippers weapons at hand.
"Without Tyson and Carmelo they are a different team," Paul said. "Tyson is one of those guys who just pushes tempo and keeps running and running."
The Knicks found no replacement for that energy.
"It's frustrating, it's extremely frustrating," Knicks forward Chris Copeland said. "I'm very confident in this team. I believe we're as deep as we need to be, we have a lot guys that can play. We were shorthanded tonight, but I still think we can get the job done out here on the road."
Paul, efficient as usual, hit 6 of 12 shots and finished with 20 points and eight assists. Griffin had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
In all, five Clippers scored in double figures, with Jamal Crawford chipping in 12 points off the bench. Also scoring 12 points each was Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups.
It just took a little while to get going.
"We want them to be at full throttle with (Anthony) and (Chandler) just for the competition of it," Billups said. "But when they're not playing, it's just kind of human nature to have a subconscious letdown. But you have to find a way to scrap through it."
The short-handed Knicks had no answers after the Clippers slow start, falling behind by 19 points in the second half while struggling to find any rhythm offensively.
Although they did make the proverbial late-game run to close within 10 points, the Clippers never appeared in danger and eventually restored order.
New York made just 29 of 81 shots from the field for an ice-cold 35.8 percent shooting, and only two starters managed to reach double figures in scoring -- Raymond Felton with 16 points and Chris Copeland with 13.
J.R. Smith came off the bench to score 17 points, although it came on 4-of-20 shooting.
Only Steve Novak (3-of-3) and Jason Kidd (4-of-7) hit better than 50 percent of their shots for the Knicks.
"We got shots up, but I don't know if our shot selection was really great," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We had looks; we just couldn't make some shots."
It was that kind of day for New York, and while it wasn't much better for the Clippers they had more than enough to pocket the victory.
"You want to be playing well, not just for the (playoff) seeding, but you just want to be playing well going into the playoffs, obviously," Griffin said. "It's time when everybody's intensity needs to be turned up and we need to be dialed in for every single game no matter who we're paying, home or away. We need every game. They're all big games from here on out."
NOTES: Anthony and Chandler are both nursing nagging knee injuries. Neither practiced with the team Saturday in Los Angeles, with Chandler (left knee contusion) and Anthony, who recently had his right knee drained, playing it cautious while focusing on the big picture of the Knicks season ... The Clippers injury woes continued, although a bit of good news was delivered as Butler, who is dealing with a left elbow strain, was back in the starting lineup after missing Wednesday's home loss to Memphis. On the other hand, back-up point guard Eric Bledsoe was out of action for the third straight game while resting his sore left calf. ... Coming in, Clippers reserve forward Matt Barnes had scored 14 or more points in four straight games for the first time in his career. When Barnes scores 10 or more points, the Clippers are 27-8. ... The Clippers 45-21 record coming in represented the best 66-game start in franchise history.