Heat, Lakers win close ones; Rockets, Celtics enjoy routs

8:47 AM, Dec 26, 2012   |    comments
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The NBA's best record now belongs to the Los Angeles Clippers after they extended their team-record winning streak to 14 games.

Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 22 points and the Clippers improved to 22-6 with a 112-100 win over Denver in Los Angeles.

Matt Barnes added 20 points for the Clippers, who haven't lost a game since Nov. 26 against New Orleans. Jordan Hamilton and Kosta Koufos each had 16 points to lead the Nuggets.

The outcome puts the Western Conference-leading Clippers a half-game ahead of Oklahoma. The Miami Heat have grabbed the top spot in the NBA's Eastern Conference by surviving a battle with the Thunder.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers combined for 70 points as the Heat outlasted the Thunder 103-97 in Miami. James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds to help Miami beat the Thunder for the fifth straight time dating back to this year's NBA Finals.

Wade finished with 21 points and Chalmers added 20 as the defending champs improved to 19-6, matching the best 25-game start in team history.

Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook added 21 for Oklahoma City, but both Thunder stars missed potentially game-tying 3-point attempts in the final seconds. The Thunder are 21-6 after losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Los Angeles Lakers are showing how good they can be when fully healthy.

The Lakers picked up their fifth straight win and climbed to the .500 mark at 14-14 with a 100-94 win over the New York Knicks. Kobe Bryant scored 34, topping 30 points for the ninth straight game, while appearing in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day contest.

Steve Nash had 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his second game in nearly two months. Pao Gasol (pow gah-SAHL') added 13 points and eight rebounds while playing his third straight game since missing eight games with tendinitis in both knees.

Carmelo Anthony scored 34 points, but the rest of the Knicks' starters combined for just 28. J.R. Smith came off the bench to add 24 points for the Knicks, who dropped to 20-8 and slipped a half-game behind the East-leading Heat.

In the rest of the NBA schedule: Rajon Rondo scored 19 points in his first full game against Brooklyn this season, and the Boston Celtics beat the Nets 93-76.

Rookie Jared Sullinger tied a career high with 16 points and Jeff Green had 15 for the Celtics, who avoided falling under .500 with just their second victory in six games.

Boston is 14-13. - James Harden scored 26 points and the Houston Rockets led by as many as 35 in a 120-97 rout of the Bulls in Chicago.

Jeremy Lin finished with 20 points and 11 assists, Chandler Parson added 23 points and former Bull Omer Asik had 20 points and 18 rebounds in his first trip back to Chicago since signing with the Rockets in the offseason.

Associated Press

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