LA Clippers top NBA with 14th straight win
LOS ANGELES - The Associated Press
LA Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe (L) goes up for a slam dunk during an NBA game against the Denver Nuggets. AFP photoThe Los Angeles Clippers extended their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games by beating the Denver Nuggets 112-100 on Christmas night - and moved to the top of the NBA standings in the process.
Jamal Crawford led a dominant performance by the Los Angeles reserves with 22 points, while Matt Barnes added 20.
The Clippers’ bench outscored the team’s starters 64-48 in claiming the NBA’s best record at 22-6, one win better than Oklahoma City. The Miami Heat defeated the Thunder 103-97 in an NBA Finals rematch earlier on Dec. 25.
In the other games on Christmas, the Boston Celtics defeated the struggling Brooklyn Nets 93-76, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New York Knicks 100-94 and the Houston Rockets routed the Chicago Bulls 120-97.
The Clippers have not lost since Nov. 26 when the New Orleans Hornets handed them their fourth straight defeat.
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.
The Heat survived a frantic finish to beat the Thunder for the fifth straight time going back to June’s title series and improve their season record to 19-6.
LeBron James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 21 and Mario Chalmers had a season-high 20 for the defending NBA champions.
Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potentially game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds.
Kobe Bryant engineered a second-half comeback to help the Lakers win their fifth straight game earlier in Los Angeles.
Bryant scored 34 points in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day game and Metta World Peace added 20 points and seven rebounds while defending Carmelo Anthony, whose 34 points led the Knicks. Bryant, the league’s leading scorer, has topped 30 or more points in nine straight games.