Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E Sports) – The Los Angeles Clippers relied on their reserves to beat the Denver Nuggets, 112-100, on Christmas Day at Staples Center for a franchise-record 14th straight victory and the best record in the NBA.
Jamal Crawford tallied 22 points and Matt Barnes added 20 as the Clippers bench scored a season-best 42 points in the second quarter en route to their 22nd win in 28 games, the best record in the league after the Oklahoma City Thunder lost to the Miami Heat earlier.
Eric Bledsoe added 12 as the Clippers bench accounted for 64 points of the team’s total output, outscoring their starters by 16 markers.
“We had good bench production tonight, especially in that second quarter, and at the end of the third a little bit to withstand their run. Just a good, overall team effort,” said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro.
Chris Paul was the highest-scoring starter for the Clippers with 14 points and eight assists, Blake Griffin had 13 and Willie Green had 11 markers.
“It’s nice, but it’s Christmas and we have a long way to … a lot of games to play and a lot of improving to do,” Del Negro added, referring to their best record in the league.
Center Kosta Koufos scored 16 points for the second consecutive game, making all eight of his field-goal attempts for the Nuggets, who dropped to 15-14. He also grabbed 10 boards.
Jordan Hamilton added 16 points and Ty Lawson had 15 points and five assists for Denver, which missed forward Danilo Gallinari’s scoring.
Gallinari shot just 1-for-10 from the floor for the second time in the last three games and finished with seven points.
The opening quarter was highlighted by eight deadlocks and nine lead changes before Denver settled for a 26-25 lead.
The Clippers took the upperhand for good, 30-29, on a three-pointer by Barnes with 10:33 remaining in the first half.
The Nuggets stayed within a basket until Odom, Paul and Crawford combined for six consecutive points to push the lead to 45-36.
Then, the bench combined for 28 of the 42 points in the quarter to eventually extend the lead to 67-48 at the break.