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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

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