Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/18/12
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers followed a familiar path to their fifth consecutive victory and their seventh in nine games to start the season. Their bench gave them a jolt of energy early in the game and their best player took over down the stretch. Jamal Crawford and the Clippers' explosive second unit helped to turn a close game with the Chicago Bulls into a runway before halftime, earning a 101-80 win Saturday night in the Staples Center. Crawford, a reserve shooting guard who has led the Clippers in scoring through the season's first nine games, scored 22 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field in only 27 minutes, 22 seconds. The Clippers' bench outscored the Bulls' subs by a commanding 53-25. At one point in the second half, the Clippers led the battle of the benches 40-8. "We came in and we try to do our job," Crawford said. "We understand in this league starters will go back and forth. So it's up to the bench to gain an advantage, or if we have the lead, to continue to build momentum." Blake Griffin had a team-leading 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who improved to 7-2 to start the season. Chris Paul scored eight points and added a team-high 10 assists for Los Angeles, which took the lead for good late in the first quarter. The Clippers led by as many as 23 points in the third quarter. Carlos Boozer scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Bulls (5-4), and Rip Hamilton and Luol Deng added 14 points apiece. Chicago's backups cut the deficit to 87-74 with 6:13 remaining in the game. After a timeout, Griffin scored six straight points to extend L.A.'s lead to 93-74. After the Bulls went on a 6-0 run to narrow the Clippers' lead, Griffin scored six consecutive points to put the game away. "It felt great," Paul said of watching Griffin take over the game with his outside shooting. "It felt like I made them. He can do it and we need him to do it. Once he develops that and he becomes unstoppable. That helps me out unbelievably." The game was all but settled in the first half as the Clippers continued their hot start to the season. Los Angeles added Chicago to its list of impressive victories. The Clippers also have wins over Miami, Memphis, San Antonio and the rival Lakers. "We got out-scrapped tonight," Chicago center Joakim Noah said. "We got out-competed. I think we took a couple of steps back today. They were denying everything with their switching (defense) and we didn't finish well around the rim." The Clippers held the Bulls to 33.7 percent shooting from the floor (30 of 89). Chicago also had 16 turnovers. "The second quarter was the difference in the game," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We gave up 35 points and the tone of the game changed. We put them in the open court. We had 12 turnovers in the first half. Too many of those turned into layups and dunks. "The second half was not much better. Our turnovers and blocked shots got us." Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan scored only five points but grabbed eight rebounds and had seven of the Clippers' 10 blocked shots. The Clippers led 18-15 by the end of the first quarter, setting the tone by forcing the Bulls into seven turnovers and 28 percent shooting (7 of 25). Griffin scored six points in the opening period and had eight by halftime. Crawford and Matt Barnes, a reserve forward, sparked a 19-4 run that stretched from near the end of the first quarter to midway through the second, giving the Clippers a 33-19 lead with 7:01 remaining in the first half. NOTES: The Clippers led the NBA in steals, averaging 10.3 per game going into Saturday's game. … Guard Chauncey Billups (left Achilles' tendon) and forward Grant Hill (right knee) each sat out his ninth game to start the season. There is no timetable for either to make his season debut, although Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Billups is closer than Hill. ... The Bulls made their lone visit to play the Clippers in the Staples Center without point guard Derrick Rose, whose return from left knee surgery remains uncertain. ... The Bulls led the all-time series 62-41 going into Saturday’s game. ... Chicago’s trip continues Sunday in Portland.
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