Griffin leads streaking Clippers past Bulls 94-89

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 12, 2012 at 12:56 am •  Published: December 12, 2012
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CHICAGO (AP) — Chris Paul liked the way the Los Angeles Clippers grinded out an ugly win when they were challenged.

Blake Griffin had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help Los Angeles beat the Chicago Bulls 94-89 on Tuesday night for its seventh straight victory, the team's longest winning streak in two decades.

Marco Belinelli hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute left to cut Chicago's deficit to 89-87, but Paul answered with a floater in the lane, then iced it with three free throws down the stretch as Los Angeles snapped the Bulls' season-high three-game winning streak.

Paul finished with 18 points and four assists, below the 20 and 10 he averaged in his first dozen games against Chicago but enough for the Clippers to sweep the season series for the first time since 2009-10.

"I kind of forgot what it was like to play in the fourth quarter," said Paul, who hadn't seen late action since Dec. 3 at Utah. "But at the end, we knew we were on the road and we'd have to withstand a run we knew they would make. Our defense kept us in the game."

Chicago shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, but only 1 of 6 in the fourth quarter.

"We want our identity to be a defensive identity," Paul said. "We're still trying to build that."

The Clippers (15-6) are on their longest winning streak since an eight-game run during the 1991-92 season. They have won 10 of 12 at the United Center.

Carlos Boozer scored 24 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Bulls, who had won five of six overall.

It was Boozer's 10th double-double in 13 games, but he missed a pair of free throws and was called for an offensive foul during a crucial sequence 3 minutes into the fourth quarter as Chicago failed to cut into the Clippers' lead.

The Bulls (11-9) had held opponents below 90 points in seven of their last nine games, though they did keep the Clippers under 100 for the first time during their seven-game run.

Griffin was a force inside throughout, quieting the home crowd with his thunderous dunks. He also knocked down his first 3-pointer of the season in the second quarter after missing five previous attempts.

"Games on the road like this, after we had a little bit of success, six games, coming on the road, you don't want to have a letdown," Griffin said. "Chicago's a tough team. These are the kinds of wins you need."

The Western Conference Player of the Week then followed with a pair of rim-shaking dunks in transition as part of a 15-5 Clippers run to end the first half. They went into halftime with a seven-point lead, matching their biggest advantage of the game to that point.

"The end of the second quarter changed the game," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We started dancing with the ball. When you do that it leads to turnovers, live ball, and transition baskets for them. We shot ourselves in the foot there.



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