GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin scored 23 points and the Los Angeles Clippers capitalized on the Cavaliers’ decision to rest their top three players with an easy 108-78 victory over Cleveland on Saturday night.
LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving sat out for the Cavaliers, and the Clippers snapped their three-game losing streak by feasting on the defending champions’ supporting cast.
J.J. Redick added 16 points for the Clippers, who swept their season series with the Cavs. Cleveland’s personnel decision also allowed the Clippers to rest Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan for the entire fourth quarter while their reserves turned a comfortable win into a blowout.
Griffin sat out Thursday’s loss at Denver to rest, and he poured in 13 points in the third quarter while the Clips pulled away.
Richard Jefferson scored 12 to lead the Cavs in their lowest-scoring game of the season.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Love already was scheduled to sit out this game in his comeback from left knee surgery, and Irving left Thursday’s game at Utah early with tightness in his own left knee.
With the Cavs beginning a stretch of eight games in 14 days, Lue also decided to rest James instead of forcing him to play without his full supporting cast.
The result was not surprising — and perhaps just what the Clippers needed to shake up their team in a humdrum March. Los Angeles (41-29) had lost six of 10, and Oklahoma City is a half-game behind the Clippers for fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Cavaliers (45-22) have lost five of eight, but still lead Boston by 1 1/2 games atop the Eastern Conference.
Channing Frye, Deron Williams and J.R. Smith started for Cleveland in the stars’ place along with Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson. All five starters hit double figures.
The Staples Center crowd hated Lue’s decision, reacting with confusion when the starting lineups were announced and then booing James when he joined the Cavs on the bench early in the first quarter. “We Want LeBron!” chants were taken up by much of the crowd on a few occasions.
NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME
For the second straight week, ABC’s showcase Saturday night game was dampened by a coach’s decision to sit his best players. Golden State’s Steve Kerr sat Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala for a showdown with San Antonio last week.
Lue acknowledged the disappointed fans on TV and in the arena. He said James also didn’t like the decision. But Lue felt he had justification beyond pure rest due to Love’s recent return and Irving’s new injury, and he didn’t want James to play without his top two lieutenants.
Lue said his three stars all will return Sunday night against the woeful Lakers.
Cavaliers: Shumpert played after spraining his left shoulder Thursday. … Kyle Korver also missed his sixth straight game with a foot injury. … Cleveland had won its last two road games against the Clippers.
Clippers: Coach Doc Rivers flatly rejected a widely reported rumor of a possible reunion with the Orlando Magic: “I have a past with the Magic. I have no future. My future is here.” Rivers coached the Magic from 1999-03. … James averages 23.9 points per game against the Clippers. That’s his lowest mark against any opponent. … Paul went 0 for 8 from the floor, but had seven assists. … The Clippers are one win from clinching their sixth straight winning season. That’s the same number of winning seasons that the erstwhile Buffalo Braves had in the franchise’s first 41 years of existence.
Cavaliers: At the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
Clippers: Host the New York Knicks on Monday.
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