LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Clippers waited all day to unwrap their present, a game against the Denver Nuggets that concluded the NBA’s five-game, Christmas Day bonanza.
When they finally got their turn, the Clippers rolled to a 112-100 win in front of 19,346 at Staples Center, extending their franchise-record winning streak to 14 games.
At 22-6, the Clippers boast the NBA’s best record. At the rate they’re going, they will be angling for a spot in the primetime Christmas game next season rather than working the late shift.
“That’s not really even on our radar,” reserve guard Jamal Crawford (game-high 22 points) said of finishing atop the standings. “We just want to play good basketball, continue what we’re doing and see how far that takes us.”
For now, they kept their winning streak alive as they push toward the best season in franchise history — opening eyes around the league in the process.
The key was a 42-point second-quarter explosion in which the Clippers outscored the Nuggets by 20. Backup forward Matt Barnes scored 12 of his 20 points in the period.
As usual, the Clippers’ bench did much of the heavy lifting, outscoring the team’s starters 64-48. In addition to the contributions of Crawford and Barnes, backup guard Eric Bledsoe added 12 points.
The bench production was more than enough support for starters Chris Paul, who had 14 points and eight assists, and Blake Griffin, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
The Nuggets twice climbed to within nine points in the third quarter but could not draw any closer, eventually succumbing to the Clippers’ versatile attack.
Only a late Denver run resulted in the score finishing as relatively close as it did.
Center Kosta Koufos led the Nuggets with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ty Lawson added 15 points and five assists.
Jordan Hamilton had 16 points off the bench for the Nuggets, who also got 12 points from Andre Miller.
NOTES: The Clippers’ franchise-record winning streak includes a franchise-best six consecutive wins on the road. Entering play Tuesday, they’d held eight consecutive opponents to less than 43 percent shooting, and their average margin of victory during the winning streak was 13 points. … In a scheduling oddity, the Nuggets played the Clippers in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, and they will host the Lakers in Denver on Wednesday. The Lakers played in Staples Center earlier Tuesday and left for Denver immediately after — easily beating the Nuggets there and getting a decent night’s rest. … Lawson, who missed the second half of Denver’s game Saturday against the Charlotte Bobcats with an Achilles injury, was back in the starting lineup Tuesday. … Denver has a 7-13 record away from home, its last road win coming against the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 16.