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Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

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On a roll: Clippers forward Blake Griffin attempts a shot while being defended by Jazz center Enes Kanter on Sunday. The Clippers won 107-96 to extend their winning streak to 17. AP

Clippers become third team ever to finish month unbeaten

AP

LOS ANGELES — After their 17th consecutive victory that led to a perfect month, the Los Angeles Clippers finally paused to admire their achievement.

"We got something extremely magical going on," said Caron Butler after the Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 107-96 on Sunday night to become the third team in NBA history to record a perfect month.

"When we win we usually jump up and down once or twice," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Tonight we let them jump and down three or four times, so everyone had their fill."

The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs, who included Del Negro, and 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated in a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago.

"I am amazed because I haven't done it since I've been in the league," said seven-year veteran Chris Paul, whose 19 points and nine assists helped his team maintain the league's best record at 25-6.

Butler led the Clippers with 29 points despite not playing in the fourth quarter and made all six of his 3-pointers, including five in the opening period. Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Blake Griffin piled up five fouls and was held to seven points after getting double-teamed.

"That shows our depth," Paul said. "Our bench stepped up amazing. On any given night it can be another guy."

The streak isn't talked about among the players and coaches. But it's a popular topic among everyone else.

"That's an incredible record to have," Utah's Derrick Favors said. "They've got 17 straight wins and they're playing hard. I know there's a lot of pressure on them to try to keep it up, and they're going to keep coming out and keep playing the same way."

Actually, it's just the opposite, according to Griffin, who said the last month "is the most fun I've ever had playing basketball."

"You don't really think about it that much. We're having a blast," he said about the streak. "It's not like it's one of these things where it's so much pressure."

Spurs 111, Mavericks 86

In Dallas, Tony Parker had 21 points and nine assists, Manu Ginobili made several key baskets among his 20 points and San Antonio handed the Mavericks their sixth straight loss.

Dirk Nowitzki had eight points on 3-of-9 shooting a week after making a surprise return in a 38-point loss to the Spurs.

Kings 118, Celtics 96

In Sacramento, Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points and made one of the Kings' two four-point plays in the second half as the hosts handed Boston its third consecutive lopsided loss on a California road swing.

John Salmons added 23 points off the bench, Jason Thompson scored 20 and DeMarcus Cousins had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career triple-double for the Kings, who ended the calendar year by winning their sixth home game out of the last seven.

Pistons 96, Bucks 94

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, Tayshaun Prince made two free throws with 10.9 seconds left to give Detroit a victory over Milwaukee after the Pistons blew a 14-point lead.

Prince scored 20 points, and Greg Monroe added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Detroit, which had five players in double figures. Charlie Villanueva and Brandon Knight added 11 points apiece, and Jason Maxiell scored 10.



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