SACRAMENTO, California — No Chris Paul? No problem for the surging Los Angeles Clippers, who simply turned to their bench for help.
Playing without their mercurial point guard for the first time this season, the Clippers got a big lift from Jamal Crawford and matched their best start since moving to Los Angeles.
Crawford had a season-high 31 points off the bench, including a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left, and Los Angeles beat the Sacramento Kings 104-98 in overtime on Friday night.
"It's weird because I'm 33 but I feel like I'm getting better," said Crawford, who added 11 assists and seven rebounds. "I'm learning more, I have a great coach and great teammates. I'll continue to get better."
The Clippers needed every bit of Crawford's big night after blowing a five-point lead late in the fourth quarter, then getting off to a sluggish start in overtime.
Sacramento scored the first four points in the extra period on a pair of layups by Patrick Patterson. Blake Griffin got the Clippers on the board with a 19-foot jumper, then later scored on a dunk.
DeAndre Jordan added a bucket off an offensive rebound, and Crawford followed with an 18-foot, step-back jumper with 1:28 remaining before sealing the win from the free throw line.
"With Chris Paul out, I knew it was going to be (Crawford's) green light to take over the game," Sacramento coach Mike Malone said. "He's a beast. He's done that his whole career."
Griffin added 21 points and 12 assists, while Jordan blocked a career-high nine shots for the Clippers. Los Angeles, which has won nine of its last 11, matched the 12-5 start set by the 2005-06 team.
The win also moved Clippers coach Doc Rivers within one victory of 600 for his career.
"Physically, I thought we were phenomenal most of the night," Rivers said.
Sacramento, which missed two 3-pointers over the final 70 seconds, lost its third straight this season to its Western Conference foes.
The Kings didn't go quietly.
Trailing 94-89 with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Sacramento scored the final two baskets in regulation to force the extra period.
Greivis Vasquez made an off-balance 3-pointer that banked in off the backboard, and Ben McLemore added two free throws with 17 seconds left.
Crawford had a chance to win it for Los Angeles but missed a long jumper from the top of the 3-point line at the buzzer.
He more than made up for it in overtime.
"I don't know what he's got against us," Vasquez said. "Every time he comes here he just goes off."
The teams, who played six days earlier in Southern California, were much more restrained in their third matchup of the season.
That might have been because Paul, who has been at the center of much of the heat between them, did not play. Paul was held out for the first time this season after straining a hamstring against the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
"We have a bunch of games coming up so it's smarter to rest him," Rivers said before the game. "I think Chris knows it's the right thing to do. Right now we'll just do things, guards, by committee."
Darren Collison, who started in place of Paul, had seven points in the first half but didn't record his first assist until midway through the third quarter.
Crawford came off the bench with 13 points and five assists in the first 24 minutes to help Los Angeles get going after a sluggish start.
The Clippers, who edged the Kings 103-102 at home on Nov. 23, shot just 38 percent in the first quarter and trailed by as much as eight before making their run.
Crawford had nine points in the second quarter, including a driving layup with 5.3 seconds left that gave Los Angeles a 50-45 lead at the break.
The Clippers maintained their slim lead for most of the third quarter. Griffin scored eight points in the period, while Crawford made his second 3-pointer with 44 seconds left to keep Los Angeles in front 73-72.
McLemore and John Salmons finished with 14 points apiece.
Notes: Griffin went over 5,000 career points. ... Derrick Williams had 12 points and a pair of thunderous dunks in his Sacramento debut. The second overall pick in the 2011 draft, Williams was acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier this week in exchange for Luc Mbah a Moute.