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Red-hot Clippers play host to Celtics
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Clippers will try to make it 15 wins in a row Thursday night when they welcome the Boston Celtics to Staples Center.
Their 14-game winning streak is not just a franchise record, but also a season-best in the NBA. They haven't lost in the month of December and here's an alarming stat to put it all in perspective for Clippers fans: nine times since the 1981-82 season, the Clippers failed to win 20 games in an entire season. The Clips reached that number before Christmas.
"It's nice, but it's Christmas and we've got a long way to go," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said of his team owning the league's best record. "A lot of games to play and a lot of improving to do."
The 14th consecutive win came on Christmas Day when the Clippers bested the Denver Nuggets, 112-100, at home. It was only the second time during this brilliant stretch the Clippers allowed 100 points. The other time came on Dec. 3 to the Utah Jazz.
The bench continued to be outstanding for the Clippers, who are still without Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill. Jamal Crawford led the way for L.A. with 22 points and reserve Matt Barnes chipped in 20. Eric Bledsoe scored 12 off the bench and Lamar Odom had six points and 10 rebounds.
The reserves tallied 64 points, 25 rebounds, 14 assists, six steals and three blocks.
"We (the bench) are just trying to keep pushing it," Ronny Turiaf said. "We're trying to do whatever we've got to do to give us a chance to win a ball game; by moving the ball from side to side and playing together. If we do that, everybody succeeds."
Chris Paul, who is emerging as a real MVP candidate, had 14 points and Blake Griffin added 13.
The Celtics are coming off a Christmas victory of their own on Tuesday. They pummeled the listless Brooklyn Nets, 93-76, in Brooklyn, but left on a three- game west-coast trip right after.
The Celtics used a dominant second quarter to thwart the Nets in the first matchup between the two teams since their last game was marred by a little scuffle. Boston won the second frame, 34-18, for its second victory in its last three games.
"I think we're getting better," said Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. "I think we're very, very close to becoming a good team, but we're not yet."
The Celtics were led against the Nets by 19 points from Rajon Rondo, but it was a group effort. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett only managed eight points apiece, but Pierce handed out 10 assists and Garnett grabbed 10 rebounds.
Jeff Green chipped in 15 points off the bench and rookie Jared Sullinger added 16 points and seven rebounds.
The Celtics have won three of the last four meetings, including last season's only meeting in Los Angeles.
12/27 10:38:31 ET