LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clippers got off to a hot start and never looked back, keeping their winning streak alive with a 106-77 win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday at Staples Center.
Los Angeles has now won a franchise-record 15 straight games — the longest winning streak in the NBA this season.
Matt Barnes scored a game-high 21 points off the bench and Jamal Crawford added 17. Lamar Odom grabbed 13 rebounds and Chris Paul dished out 11 assists.
“They’re unbelievable,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said of the Clippers.
Kevin Garnett led five Celtics in double figures with 16 points.
The Clippers led from the get-go thanks to an 18-4 run in the first six minutes. Blake Griffin made a pair of jumpers early, and the rest of the starting five all scored at least one field goal during the run.
Boston regained a little traction near the end of the quarter as Garnett’s turnaround jumper beat the buzzer and cut the lead to 10.
Los Angeles’ bench held the lead in the second quarter until Crawford got hot late, putting the Clippers up 13. Boston almost got a second buzzer beater, but Jeff Green’s three-point shot came just after the buzzer.
As the physicality of the game picked up in the third quarter, the Clippers stretched out their lead to as many as 21. Jared Sullinger was hit with a flagrant foul on Blake Griffin, preventing Griffin from another highlight slam.
“It was intense,” Griffin said. “They played very intense, they played very physical, and I thought we did a good job of matching that.”
The Celtics headed into the fourth quarter down 82-67 as Rajon Rondo hit his second three-point shot of the game with less than two seconds on the clock.
But the Clippers’ bench, like it has done often during the team’s streak, put the game away in the fourth quarter and kept Griffin (15 points, eight rebounds), Chris Paul (eight points, 11 assists), DeAndre Jordan (seven points, seven rebounds) and Caron Butler (14 points) on the bench.
The Clippers led by as many as 32 points in the fourth and have won their last seven games by 10 points or more.
“I like the way we’re playing right now,” Paul said. “I think it’s contagious.”
Boston has lost five of the last seven games and faces a challenge Saturday at Golden State.
“For us, it’s the same old story,” Boston guard Jason Terry said. “We win one and we lose one. Until we are able to break that cycle, we are not going to take the next step and we know that. We have to win this next one.”
The Clippers have a chance to extend their streak to 16 games Friday in Utah.
“We have to be professional, we’ve got to be prepared and we’ve got to be locked in to what we want to do and how we want to do it,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. “We’ve been doing a better job of that. The results happen if you prepare the right way.”
Barnes said the Clippers have a single goal, and it’s not about adding to a winning streak.
“We’re playing well, but we just want to continue building good habits,” he said. “Boston is a tough team, but we jumped on them early and really didn’t give them any breathing room. We played well throughout the game.”
NOTES: The Clippers owned the best record in the NBA and the longest winning streak heading into Thursday’s game. The winning streak was a franchise record, and the team never previously had the best record in the league this late in the season. … Prior to the game, Del Negro praised starting shooting guard Willie Green’s professionalism. Green has started and played in 25 games this season, but he didn’t play a single second in the three games Chauncey Billups started. … The Clippers are 9-2 this season on games televised by ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. Thursday’s game was on TNT. … The Celtics, not surprisingly, have dominated the series with the Clippers, going 84-32 before Thursday. … The Clippers are still without veterans Grant Hill (right knee bone bruise) and Billups (left foot peroneal tendinitis). Hill was on the court practicing jump shots before the game. … Avery Bradley (shoulder surgeries) and Chris Wilcox (sprained UCL, right thumb) didn’t play for Boston.