LOS ANGELES -- For much of the season, the Los Angeles Clippers have been up-and-up, soaring into the air with impunity, not just above the rim, almost above the building.
Just 4-4 over their last eight games before a Wednesday night contest with the visiting Philadelphia 76ers, the Clippers have been more up-and-down lately.
The inconsistency dripped over into a lackadaisical first quarter against the 76ers, but then Los Angeles swallowed its helium and flew past Philadelphia.
The Clippers used a 10-3 run to seize a 10-point halftime advantage then stretched the lead to as much as 31 in the fourth quarter to cruise to a 101-72 win over the 76ers at Staples Center.
"It showed we are capable of doing things the right way," Chris Paul said. "Our aggressive mentality helped us. Obviously they missed a few shots, but our energy was just great."
Facing a Philadelphia squad that has found some success during the last week after a brutal stretch, the Clippers dropped the hammer defensively, holding the 76ers to just 36 percent shooting in the first half and 37 percent overall. Los Angeles also forced 19 turnovers while maintaining a 43-37 rebounding advantage.
"They're very hard to stop in transition," 76ers guard Jrue Holiday said. "They have so many high flyers. Obviously, the past couple weeks, you start to think a little bit more about jumping with these guys. But they definitely took advantage of the turnovers."
After a middling first quarter that finished tied at 20 and in which both teams shot worse than 37 percent, the Clippers took control in the second quarter and never let up. Los Angeles shot 60 percent from the field in the second quarter, held the 76ers to 29 percent and the Clippers' bench outscored Philadelphia's 16-6 in a dominant stretch.
Then Paul took over in the third, scoring 10 points, grabbing three rebounds, picking up three steals and dishing two assists.
"Our defense started creating our offense," Paul said. "We were able to get off, get a couple lobs, get a couple fouls. Last night, they had a 3-point barrage on is, and tonight we just wanted to make up for it a little bit."
Added Jamal Crawford: "The third quarter was Chris Paul. I thought he was unbelievable picking up the pace, the tempo. We did a good job following his lead in the third quarter."
Paul led a balanced Los Angeles effort with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting with nine assists, six rebounds and five steals and made up for a poor night from Blake Griffin. Griffin managed just seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and added nine rebounds and Caron Butler added 14 points and six rebounds. Starting in place of the injured Chauncey Billups, Willie Green had 14 points for Los Angeles and Jamal Crawford led the Los Angeles bench with 12 points.
Spencer Hawes led Philadelphia with 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and four blocks. Thaddeus Young added 13 points and eight rebounds but Jrue Holiday faltered in his matchup with Paul, scoring two points on 1-of-8 shooting.
"I get going just because it's another game," Paul said of the matchup."I understand that there are a lot of young guards in this league who are always coming up and I always tell the story of my rookie year, I couldn't sleep the night before I played against Steve Nash. I also know that guys now are coming for me the same way, but at the end of the day, it's about who wins."
NOTES: With Billups listed as questionable due to a right groin strain, Willie Green started at shooting guard for the Clippers. Eric Bledsoe (sore left calf) and Ronny Turiaf (sore right knee) missed the game for Los Angeles. ... Philadelphia's Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson (knee) remain out. Bynum had season-ending surgery on both knees Tuesday. ... The Clippers won the first matchup between the teams, 107-90, on Feb. 11 in Philadelphia, despite a game-high 29 points by Nick Young. Paul had 12 points, 11 assists and five steals in the win, becoming the first player since 1985-86 to put up such numbers in less than 25 minutes of action. ... The 76ers entered the game on a 3-1 run after losing 12 of 13 games. ... Los Angeles is narrowing in on several team records in what has become the team's most prolific regular season. While already owning team records for consecutive wins (17), consecutive home wins (13) and wins in a month (16), the Clippers are seeking single-season records for wins, road wins and home wins. ... Los Angeles' second-best start through 68 games was 42 wins in 1974-75. ... Hawes, who became just the fourth player in NBA history to register 18 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks in the 76ers' 98-91 win over Indiana on March 16, had seven points, five rebounds and two assists in nine first-quarter minutes Wednesday. ... The Clippers entered the game with a league-best 35-2 record when leading after one quarter.