LOS ANGELES (AP) – Blake Griffin scored 12 of his 26 points in the final six minutes and grabbed 10 rebounds, helping the Los Angeles Clippers rout the Chicago Bulls 101-80 on Saturday night for their fifth straight victory.
Reserve Jamal Crawford scored 17 of his 22 points in the second quarter for the Clippers, who lead the Pacific Division with a 7-2 mark. It’s their best record after nine games since 2005-06, when they won nine of their first 11, finished 47-35 and came within one victory of the Western Conference finals.
Five of the Clippers’ six wins have come against teams that were in the playoffs last season, including the Lakers, Spurs and world champion Miami Heat on Wednesday. Both of their losses came against clubs which failed to make the postseason — Golden State and Cleveland.
The Clippers’ reserves outscored the starters 35-18 in the first half and 53-48 for the game. Crawford, who signed with Los Angeles as a free agent in July after spending last season with Portland, leads the Clippers with 20.7 points per game and has scored 20 or more in six of his first nine contests.
The Bulls, who blew an 18-point lead in their previous game on Wednesday at Phoenix before beating the Suns 112-106 in overtime, got 22 points and 12 rebounds from Carlos Boozer on the second leg of their annual circus road trip. Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton each had 14 points.
Joakim Noah, who has been urged by Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to take more shots, was 0 for 6 from the field and finished with four points in 30 minutes. It was the 6-foot-11 center’s worst shooting effort in 339 NBA regular-season games, including six occasions when he was 0 for 4.
Crawford led Los Angeles to a 53-40 halftime lead with 17 points, including three free throws with 1:31 left in the second quarter after Kirk Hinrich fouled him on a fadeaway 3-point attempt near the Clippers’ bench.
Los Angeles opened the second half with a 7-0 run and extended its lead to 71-48 on Griffin’s 21-footer with 5:04 left in the third quarter. The Bulls narrowed the gap to 87-74 with two baskets off offensive rebounds and a 3-pointer by Marco Belinelli with 6:14 left in the game.
But Griffin put the Clippers back in control with two free throws, a fast-break layup and another layup — all in a 58-second span. For good measure, the two-time All-Star connected three straight times on perimeter jumpers from 18 feet and out during a 70-second stretch to make it 99-80 with 2:07 to play.
The Bulls missed 12 of their first 15 shots, committed six turnovers in the first 7 1/2 minutes and fell behind by 15 on Matt Barnes’ 3-pointer from the left corner with 5:49 left in the half.
Chris Paul finished with 10 assists and eight points for the Clippers
NOTES: The Clippers came in with an average of 40.9 points from their bench. … Crawford was traded to the Bulls on draft day in June 2000 by Cleveland in exchange for Chris Mihm and cash. The 13-year veteran spent his first four NBA seasons in Chicago and went through two coaching transitions, playing for Tim Floyd, Bill Cartwright and Scott Skiles — but never making the playoffs during that stretch. The Clippers are his sixth pro team. … The Clippers’ victory put Vinny Del Negro one game over .500 in the regular season for the first time since he took over as head coach at the start of the 2010-11 campaign. He is 79-78 with Los Angeles, after guiding Chicago to back-to-back .500 seasons and two playoff berths. The Bulls are 117-40 since firing Del Negro and replacing him with Thibodeau.