LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Matt Barnes tied his season high with 21 points off the bench, Chris Paul had 11 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Boston 106-77 on Thursday night, becoming the first team to win 15 consecutive games since the Celtics four years ago.
“Last year playing with the Lakers, I was told when I can shoot and if I made mistakes I’d come out the game,” said Barnes. “This year, Vinny has a lot of trust in me. He lets me go out there and play my game and if I mess up, he’ll still stick with me.”
Fellow reserve Jamal Crawford added 17 points, Blake Griffin had 15 points and Caron Butler 14 to help the Clippers improve the NBA’s best record to 23-6.
Kevin Garnett scored 16 points for Boston, which never led in dropping to .500 at 14-14 with its fifth loss in seven games. Paul Pierce and Jeff Green added 12 points each to go with 10 apiece from Jason Terry and Rajon Rondo.
Boston’s winning streak extended to 19 games in 2008-09.
Barnes had the Clippers’ first five points in a 9-0 run that opened the fourth quarter and boosted their lead to 90-67. Willie Green briefly played; otherwise the Clippers’ other starters rested to close out the game.
The Celtics were held to 10 points in the final 12 minutes.
Garnett had six points in the third when the Celtics were narrowly outscored 22-20, but still trailed 82-67. The Clippers’ 9-0 run pushed their lead to 21 points before Boston went on a 10-4 run, including 3-pointers by Courtney Lee and Rondo to end the quarter.
The game got chippy at times. In the third, Jared Sullinger was called for a flagrant-1 foul for grabbing the front of Griffin on his way up to dunk. Then Butler and Pierce emerged from a big mass both holding onto the ball, leading to a jump ball. In the first, Rondo was lying on the ball and Paul tried to take it out from under him on the sideline, leading to a testy moment.
The Celtics cut their deficit to four points early in the second quarter – the closest they came after the opening quarter – with consecutive 3-pointers by Terry and Lee before the Clippers’ second unit rebuilt the double-digit lead the starters had created. Crawford scored 13 points for Los Angeles, highlighted by a fast-break floater and a rainbow 3. He scored the final four points to keep the Clippers ahead 60-47 heading into halftime.
The Clippers came roaring out of the opening tip, outscoring the Celtics 24-9.
NOTES: The Clippers are assured of finishing December as their best month ever with two games remaining, including the second half of a back-to-back at Utah. They’ve already surpassed the franchise record for most wins in a month, bettering the old mark of 12 shared by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves and the 1991-92 Clippers (which included Celtics coach Doc Rivers). … Boston fell to 5-9 on the road. … The Clippers’ last loss was on Nov. 26 at home against New Orleans. … Justin Bieber (who had Paul’s young son sitting on his lap), Billy Crystal and Olympic 200 sprint champion Allyson Felix were among the Clippers’ 67th consecutive sellout crowd.