Clippers beat Suns 117-99 for 5th straight win
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The bench bailed out the Clippers again.
Jamal Crawford led a fourth-quarter rally with 13 of his 21 points, and Los Angeles beat Phoenix 117-99 on Saturday, winning its fifth in a row while sending the Suns to their season-worst sixth straight loss.
"Thank the bench because the starters were struggling," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "They got us off to a bad start again. Our starters get into this energy on the offense and not on the defense. This game easily could have gone the other way."
Blake Griffin added 24 points and a career-best four steals, and Chris Paul had 16 points and 11 assists, but the Clippers' reserves carried them. Crawford made all four of his free throws to extend his streak to 55 in a row since Nov. 3.
"We owed them a lot," Griffin said about the reserves. "We want to put it away early, but with the way that our team is put together, our second team is just as capable coming in and putting that lead on teams."
The Clippers broke out in the final quarter after not leading by more than seven points through the first three periods. And they did it with their reserves, who scored every point. They opened with a 17-4 run in which Crawford scored 11 points on a variety of shots, including a 3-pointer and two free throws.
"They've got a hell of a basketball team," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry, who once guided the Clippers. "When the starters get 61 and the bench gets 56, that's a well-balanced team. They do a good job of passing the basketball."
Los Angeles fans were rewarded with a couple of big dunks by Eric Bledsoe and another by Matt Barnes that pushed the Clippers' lead to 110-93 with 4:04 to play. Their reserves outscored Phoenix's bench, 56-45.
"It started with defense," Griffin said. "We got five stops in a row and got into an 11-point lead."
Michael Beasley scored 21 points off the bench, and Shannon Brown added 19 for Phoenix, which hadn't lost six in a row since March 3-12, 2009.
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