Clippers aim for record 16 straight wins
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers left the Boston Celtics battered and bruised in a physical 106-77 victory last night to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 15 games and remain on top of the NBA standings.
Building on contributions from their All-Stars, balanced bench and ferocious defence, the Clippers (23-6) continued to prove they are legitimate title contenders with another impressive home win over a highly regarded opponent.
Reserves Matt Barnes (21 points) and Jamal Crawford (17) led the way as all 11 Los Angeles players who stepped on the Staples Center court put a number in the scoring column.
“The special thing about our team is no one cares who gets the credit,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul told reporters after finishing with eight points and 11 assists.
“Right now our entire organisation has a winning mentality and we expect nothing less than that.”
At the other end, the Celtics were held to just 40 percent shooting and out-scored 24-10 in the final quarter to complete the formalities of a blowout victory.
Kevin Garnett recorded 16 points but Boston suffered their fifth loss in seven games and heaviest defeat of the season.
Considered one of the grittier teams in the league, the Celtics (14-14) were no match for the Clippers in a scrappy battle that featured bodies flying around, a flagrant foul and a bloodied lip for Paul Pierce after a collision with Paul.
Boston left the Staples Center clearly frustrated by the reality of being manhandled.
Point guard Rajon Rondo, the NBA’s leading assist man, finished with just six as he failed to reach double figures in that category for the second straight game. He also tallied 10 points while Pierce added 12.Los Angeles took a 30-20 lead after the first quarter and gradually increased their advantage after each break.
High-flyer Blake Griffin delighted the home crowd with an array of dunks, netting 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Clippers, who have not lost since a November 26 defeat against the New Orleans Hornets, will aim for a 16th consecutive victory against the Jazz in Utah tonight.
In the other game last night in Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 40 points, while Russell Westbrook added eight of his 16 points in overtime to help Oklahoma City Thunder beat Dallas Mavericks 111-105 for the Thunder’s 11th straight win at home.
Westbrook turned the game around with six straight points after the Mavs had gone up 104-101 on Chris Kaman’s bucket inside midway through overtime. Westbrook had a layup, hit a jumper over the rusty Nowitzki and then made a leaping steal of an O.J. Mayo pass that led to a fast-break layup. The sequence left Mavericks owner Mark Cuban shaking his head in his seat near the team’s bench.
Darren Collison led the Mavericks with 32 points.