LOS ANGELES (AP) — Having wrapped up December with just the third 16-0 month in NBA history, the Los Angeles Clippers face tough challenges starting the new year.
They'll play four games this week, with two opponents having winning records and the other at .500. The Clippers take their franchise-record 17-game winning streak into Denver on Tuesday, where the Nuggets are 9-1 at home.
"It'll be a big test for us," Blake Griffin said.
Denver is the first game of a back-to-back, with a visit to Golden State on Wednesday. The Warriors handed the Clippers their first loss of the season on Nov. 3. The Clippers return home on Friday to host the Lakers, a team they've already beaten once and who are back to .500. Then comes the second game of another back-to-back against the Warriors.
"We're going to lose at some point, but this is a magical run," said Caron Butler, who had 29 points in a 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday that maintained the league's best record at 25-6.
The Clippers haven't lost since Nov. 26.
"I want to do this every year," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "This has got to be a staple of how we go about doing our business. We're thinking bigger than the streak."
They have proven they can win on successive nights during the streak, having done so on Dec. 8 against Phoenix and the next night against Toronto, then again on Dec. 11 at Chicago and the following night in Milwaukee.
"We're just trying to build as many wins as possible," Chris Paul said. "Last week was a tough week (wins over Denver, Boston and Utah twice). We don't look past anybody."
The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs, which included Del Negro, and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated in a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago.
"I am amazed because I haven't done it since I've been in the league," said Paul, a seven-year veteran who had 19 points and nine assists against Utah.
The Clippers kept their streak alive despite Griffin scoring just seven points due to foul trouble. Their bench came through again, with Jamal Crawford scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
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