Clippers cruise past Bucks for 9th straight win
MILWAUKEE — The Los Angeles Clippers have a solid starting five and a deep bench. On Saturday night, it was Matt Barnes’ turn to lead the way to another victory.
Barnes scored 21 points, Blake Griffin had 18 points and 11 rebounds and the Clippers routed the cold-shooting Milwaukee Bucks 111-85 for their ninth consecutive victory.
DeAndre Jordan added 15 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles (17-6), which had lost three in a row in Milwaukee. Griffin had three spectacular dunks in a brief stretch in the third quarter.
It’s the longest winning streak for the franchise since the Buffalo Braves captured 11 in a row during the 1974-75 season.
“It’s not easy to win in this league but I’m pleased,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We’re finding different ways to win.”
Del Negro, like many of the Clippers’ players in the locker room after the game, stressed the importance of not looking too far ahead or being absorbed by thoughts of an extended playoff run.
“We are definitely super talented and our bench helps us win a lot of games,” Jordan said. “If we can stay healthy and continue to do what we are doing, we’ll be OK.”
Barnes was 8 for 10 from the field and 5 for 6 at the free throw line. The reserve also had four assists and two steals.
“Matt keeps moving. He’s a runner,” Del Negro said. “He does a really good job defensively. He’s been very consistent for us in his effort and his energy and he’s really helping out that second group a lot.”
Barnes acknowledged that many of his points came in transition and not from set plays.
“If you run hard you’re going to get rewarded,” he said. “A lot of it is just hustle.”
The Bucks (12-10), who had won four in a row, shot 36 percent from the field.
“That’s a very talented team. If you’re going to compete with them, you need a superior effort and we had an inferior effort tonight,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “We were flat-footed the whole night and gave up 66 points in the paint. We got caught ball-watching a couple of times and just generally weren’t very competitive.”
Many of the Bucks’ missed shots led to easy baskets for the Clippers, who had 31 fast-break points.
“We took some bad shots in the paint and they bounced out a ways and then (the Clippers) were off and running,” Skiles said. “They’re almost unbeatable when that’s the case.”
Slowing down the Clippers on offense goes beyond focusing on playmaking guard Chris Paul, said Marquis Daniel, who led Milwaukee with 16 points.
“We have to get back in transition,” Daniels said. “Their bigs were the ones getting out in transition, getting dunks and layups. That’s their game. You have to take that away from them.”
Monta Ellis had 13 for the Bucks, but went 4 for 14 from the floor. Brandon Jennings was held to nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.
The Clippers put together a 20-6 surge to build a 28-15 lead after one. Jordan had eight points in the first.
The Bucks scored the first seven points of the second period, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Milwaukee was down six at 32-26 when the Clippers scored 23 of the final 32 points of the quarter to lead 55-35 at the break.
The Bucks shot just 26.2 percent from the floor in the over the first two quarters, compared with 52.5 percent for the Clippers.
Milwaukee outscored Los Angeles 27-24 in the third but the Clippers still held a 17 point lead at the end of the period.
Both teams played their reserves throughout most of the final quarter.
“Our starters got off to a very good start for us and then our bench came in and extended it,” Del Negro said. “We took control of the game in the first half and we weathered the storm in the third quarter.”
TIMBERWOLVES 114, MAVERICKS 106, OT
MINNEAPOLIS — Ricky Rubio made a triumphant return to the court with nine assists and eight points in 18 minutes, sparking the Timberwolves to an overtime victory over the Mavericks.
Andrei Kirilenko scored five of his 14 points in overtime while Rubio watched from the bench because of a minutes restriction on his surgically repaired left knee.
Nikola Pekovic scored 21 points for the Timberwolves, who won their fourth straight game despite playing without All-Star Kevin Love because of an illness.
O.J. Mayo had 20 points, six assists and five rebounds and Shawn Marion had 14 points and 10 boards for the Mavericks, who led by 13 early before Rubio came off the bench for the first time since tearing up his left knee in March.
WARRIORS 115, HAWKS 93
ATLANTA — David Lee had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and the Warriors completed an impressive road trip with a victory.
Stephen Curry collected 18 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for Golden State, which went in front to stay in the second quarter. Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry each had 19 points.
The Warriors capped a 6-1 tour against Eastern Conference teams, including a win at Miami. It was the team’s first winning road trip of at least six games since a 4-3 trip in the 1970-71 season.
Al Horford led Atlanta with 17 points. Lou Williams scored 16 and Ivan Johnson had 15 points and nine rebounds. The Hawks had won 11 of 13.
Golden State completed a sweep of its two-game season series against Atlanta one night after a 99-85 loss at Orlando. It was Lee’s seventh straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
HEAT 102, WIZARDS 72
MIAMI — LeBron James had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat never trailed.
Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade each scored 13 for Miami, which outscored Washington 29-10 in the third quarter to build a 33-point lead. James had 16 points alone in the third, ensuring he would finish with at least 20 points for the 26th straight regular-season game and 42nd consecutive game overall dating to last season.
Chris Bosh added 12 points for the Heat, who turned 21 turnovers into 30 points.
Bradley Beal scored 19 points and Cartier Martin added 18 for the Wizards, who beat the Heat 105-101 in Washington on Dec. 4.
SPURS 103, CELTICS 88
SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker had 22 points and eight assists to help the Spurs get the win.
Gary Neal added 20 points, Danny Green scored 12 and Tiago Splitter finished with 16 points and eight rebounds for San Antonio (19-6), which overcame the loss of Manu Ginobili to improve to 8-2 at home.
Ginobili departed with a bruised left quad after he ran into Chris Wilcox’s knee on a screen with 2:42 left in the first quarter.
Paul Pierce and Jason Terry each scored 18 points for Boston (12-11). Kevin Garnett added 13 points and Courtney Lee had 11.
Parker scored nine points in the final quarter. He had one turnover in 36 minutes.
GRIZZLIES 99, JAZZ 86
SALT LAKE CITY — Zach Randolph had 25 points and g16 rebounds, and the Grizzlies snapped a three-game losing streak.
It was Memphis’ first win in Salt Lake City since an overtime victory on Jan. 24, 2007.
The Grizzlies outscored Utah 28-10 in the third quarter to turn a 10-point halftime deficit into a 72-64 lead entering the fourth. The Jazz shot just 15 percent (3 of 20) in the quarter after shooting 56.4 percent at halftime.
Al Jefferson led Utah with 21 points. Paul Millsap added 12 and Gordon Hayward 11 for the Jazz (13-12), who have lost two straight.
Marc Gasol added 16 points for Memphis (15-6), including nine in the decisive third.
MAGIC 107, BOBCATS 98
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Glen Davis and Arron Afflalo each scored 20 points as the Magic handed the Bobcats their 11th straight loss.
Jameer Nelson added 16 points and six assists for Orlando, and J.J. Redick had 14 points, including a big 3-pointer down the stretch. Nikola Vucevic finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The Magic have won three of four.
Kemba Walker had a career-high 32 points for Charlotte. The second-year point guard was 11 of 19 from the field, and also had seven assists.
BULLS 83, NETS 82
CHICAGO — Joakim Noah had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and helped force a key turnover as the Bulls rallied for the win.
Nets star Deron Williams missed a jumper that would have tied it in the finals seconds, helping Chicago win for the fifth time in six games.
Noah and Luol Deng trapped Joe Johnson late in the game, resulting in one of Brooklyn’s 18 turnovers. Deng turned the mistake into a basket that tied it at 79.
Brook Lopez had 18 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes for Brooklyn, which played for the fourth time in five days.
Marco Belinelli led Chicago with 19 points and made two free throws to cap an 8-0 run in the closing minutes.
PACERS 88, PISTONS 77
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — David West had 23 points and George Hill added 18 points and seven assists to lead Indiana to the victory.
Paul George added 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Pacers (13-11), who have won three in a row to move two games over .500 for the first time this season.
Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 18 points and added eight rebounds. Rodney Stuckey had 15 points and seven assists, and Brandon Knight added 14 points.
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