Reserves lift Clippers to 14th straight win

December 26, 2012, 6:18 AM

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES — Jamal Crawford led a dominant performance by the Los Angeles reserves with 22 points, and the Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets 112-100 on Tuesday night, extending their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games.

Matt Barnes added 20 points — one off his season high — as the bench outscored the Clippers’ starters 64-48 in claiming the NBA’s best record at 22-6, one win better than Oklahoma City, which had lost to Miami earlier Tuesday.

Kosta Koufos and Jordan Hamilton scored 16 points each for Denver in the finale of a Christmas Day doubleheader at Staples Center. The Lakers, who will play the Nuggets on Wednesday night in Denver, beat the Knicks 100-94 in the first game.

Ty Lawson added 15 points for the Nuggets, who fell to 7-13 on the road, where 22 of their first 32 games are being played.

Crawford’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter pushed the Clippers’ lead to 20 points and kept the starters on the bench for the final 12 minutes as the Nuggets failed to make it close. Going into the game, the Clippers’ average margin of victory during the streak had been 13 points.

Crawford scored eight points in the quarter. He leads the NBA’s reserves in scoring and topped 20 points for the 12th time this season.

Chris Paul led Los Angeles’ starters with 14 points, Blake Griffin had 13 and Willie Green 11.
Denver rallied after halftime, using a 15-6 spurt to close to 73-63, capped by Andre Iguodala’s free throw after Paul received a technical foul.

The Clippers answered with three consecutive 3-pointers, including two by Green, for an 84-67 lead. The Nuggets ran off seven in a row to get within 10 before the Clippers regrouped with a 9-2 run, capped by Paul’s 3-pointer, that kept them ahead 93-76 heading into the fourth.

The Clippers stretched their lead to 67-48 at halftime with 42 points in the second, their highest-scoring quarter this season. The bench got things going with a 14-10 run before Paul replaced a wild Eric Bledsoe. His presence settled down the second unit until Griffin and DeAndre Jordan eventually came back in during a 28-10 run the rest of the period that produced the Clippers’ first double-digit lead. Driving dunks by Barnes and Griffin, alley-oop dunks by Griffin and Jordan, and consecutive 3-pointers by Barnes and Paul highlighted the scoring binge.

Hamilton banked in a jumper at the buzzer to give the Nuggets a 26-25 lead after a back-and-forth opening quarter. There were nine lead changes and eight ties, with neither team leading by more than three points.

NOTES: The Clippers improved to 13-3 at home. They haven’t lost there since Nov. 26 against New Orleans. … Denver fell to 3-3 in the first game of a back-to-back set. … Los Angeles wore all-red uniforms, while the Nuggets were in navy. … Paul flew in 30 family members from North Carolina to enjoy the holiday. … It was Paul’s idea to have his teammates wear ugly Christmas sweaters to the arena, and his mother procured them. “It shows we’re a tight-knit group,” Crawford said. Some of the Clippers declared Barnes the unofficial winner. His green-and-cream cardigan had tinsel, bows and ornaments hanging from it. … Kanye West was part of a contingent of Kardashians in the house, including Kim and Khloe.

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