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Clippers beat Suns to run franchise-best win streak to 13

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Associated Press
12/23/2012 10:53:06 PM
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PHOENIX - The Los Angeles Clippers are starting to make easy victories look routine.

Blake Griffin scored 23 points, Chris Paul had 17 points and 13 assists and the Clippers extended a franchise record with their 13th consecutive victory, 103-77 over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

Reserve Jamal Crawford added 22 points for the Clippers, who won in Phoenix for the first time since April 17, 2007. Los Angeles' overall win streak is an NBA season best and its six straight road victories are also a franchise best.

"We're just taking care of business right now," Griffin said. "To be honest, we're not really concerned with 'You haven't won here since then' or 'You haven't won this many games in a row.'

"We hear it all but we're about just getting these wins and if they come within a streak or when we haven't won somewhere, that's fine."

The Clippers have won by an average of 13 points and boast four victories of 20 or more points during their streak.

"I thought our starters did a good job in the first quarter and then our second quarter, we jumped on them," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro.

Jared Dudley scored 19 points, Luis Scola had 11 and Markieff Morris added 10 for the Suns, who have dropped two straight after winning four in a row.

Phoenix shot 52.2 per cent in the first quarter but only 29.8 per cent the rest of the way and tied a season low for points.

"Chris Paul was a one-man wrecking crew on defence," Dudley said. "He took us completely out of our offence. Our turnovers and bad offence led to points. They're a team you really can't afford to do that to."

Suns coach Alvin Gentry was ejected with 2:33 left in the first half when he received a pair of technical fouls seconds apart. The teams combined for six technical in the game's first three quarters.

"I've got to do a better job of keeping my cool in that situation," Gentry said. "He (Rodney Mott) thought I deserved two technical fouls so that's the way it is."

Phoenix kept it close for the first quarter and the first half of the second. Shannon Brown sank an 11-foot pull-up jumper on a fast break as the Suns trimmed an eight-point deficit to 43-40 with 5:36 left in the first half.

That would be the Suns' next-to-last field goal of the half.

Crawford, meanwhile, hit a long 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to key a 15-3 run that helped give the Clippers a 58-43 lead at halftime.

"It was our defence right there towards the end of the half," Paul said. "I think we were up like six and then you look and we're up 15. We got some very timely steals."

Los Angeles continued to extend its lead in the third, aided by five Phoenix turnovers in the first three minutes of the period, and used a 16-3 run to end the quarter for a 91-60 lead.

The Suns had 16 turnovers against the Clippers, who lead the NBA by forcing an average of 17.5 per game. Los Angeles was a bit sloppy with the ball, too, turning it over 16 times.

"They're playing show basketball with the alley-oops and the fancy passes," said Suns centre Marcin Gortat, who had eight points and 12 rebounds but also four turnovers. "They can afford to turn the ball over a few times. Our team can't fall for that. We have to run what the coach is telling us to run and to execute."

NOTES: Paul either scored or assisted on all but one basket over the final five minutes of the first quarter. ... The Clippers matched a franchise record by holding their eighth straight opponent below 43 per cent shooting. ... The Clippers' prior best road winning streak was set in 1974-75 by the then-Buffalo Braves. ... Suns C Jermaine O'Neal and Clippers C Ronny Turiaf also received technical for an altercation in the second. Gortat and DeAndre Jordan also were handed technicals. ... Suns F Michael Beasley was inactive with the flu.

Blake Griffin (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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