THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published — Monday 19 November 2012
Last update 19 November 2012 1:26 am
LOS ANGELES: 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 champions Miami Heat on Wednesday. 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.
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. Chris Paul finished with 10 assists and eight points for the Clippers.
In Phoenix, Chris Bosh scored 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting, while an ailing LeBron James added 21 to help the Miami Heat close its six-game road trip with a 97-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns. The Heat, playing without Dwyane Wade for the second game in a row because of a left foot injury, led by as many as 15 in the third quarter and were up by nine with 5љ minutes to play. The Suns cut it to two before Miami scored the game's final seven points. James, who missed the morning shootaround with flu-like symptoms, made only 8 of 20 shots but still reached 20 points for the 11th time in 11 games this season. Markieff Morris scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half for Phoenix.
Earlier in Boston, Rajon Rondo tied his season high with 20 assists, and Jason Terry scored 20 points to help the Boston Celtics to an easy 107-89 victory over the Toronto Raptors. Rondo's game streak of double-digit assists now stands at 33, the third-longest in NBA history and within four games of tying John Stockton. Magic Johnson holds the record at 46 consecutive games with 10 or more assists.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, Mike Conley scored 20 points and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the Charlotte Bobcats 94-87 on Saturday night for their eighth consecutive victory. Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds, and three other players scored in double figures for the Grizzlies, who own the NBA's best record at 8-1. Rudy Gay had 16 points and Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 12 apiece. Byron Mullens scored 18 points and Kemba Walker added 17 for the Bobcats who had won three straight.
In other games Saturday, O.J. Mayo scored 19 points as the Dallas Mavericks edged the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-95, while Al Jefferson scored 21 points and Gordon Hayward added 15 in the Utah Jazz's 83-76 win over the winless Washington Wizards. Monta Ellis scored six of his 22 points in the final 2 minutes to help the Milwaukee Bucks hold off the New Orleans Hornets 117-113 and Manu Ginobili scored 20 points as the San Antonio Spurs set a season high for points in a 126-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets.