CHICAGO — Forward Blake Griffin tallied 26 points and 13 rebounds as the hot-shooting Los Angeles Clippers beat the Chicago Bulls 112-95 on Friday at the United Center.
The Clippers knocked down 10 of their first 11 attempts from 3-point range and the Bulls never got closer than eight points after falling behind 41-26 in the first quarter.
Guard Jamal Crawford added 19 points, guard J.J. Redick scored 18 and guard Darren Collison finished with 17. The Clippers are now 11-2 at the United Center since the 2000-01 season.
Forward Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 22 points. Forward Taj Gibson scored 18, forward Mike Dunleavy had 17, while center Joakim Noah finished with 13 rebounds, 12 points and seven assists. Chicago came into this one with nine wins in its last 11 games.
The Clippers (30-15) came out scorching hot, shooting 74 percent overall in the first quarter while scoring 41 points — a season-high for a Bulls opponent.
The game followed a consistent pattern. Trailing by 15 after one quarter, Chicago closed within 45-37 midway through the second after a Gibson jumper. The Clippers answered with a 12-2 run, capped by a fast-break alley-oop from Griffin to center DeAndre Jordan, and the lead was 60-39.
Early in the third quarter, the Bulls climbed within nine points on a layup by Boozer. The Clippers came back with an 8-0 run to push the advantage to 76-59 on a lay-in by Griffin with 7:34 left in the third.
Consecutive 3-pointers by forward Dunleavy sparked a response by the Bulls, who got within 78-70 on a 3-pointer by guard D.J. Augustin. Collison, starting at point guard in place of the injured Chris Paul, scored the Clippers’ next 10 points and the lead was back up to 21 when a Crawford 3-pointer made it 101-80 two minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Bulls (21-21) got the lead down to 12 points a couple times, but it did no good. This was their second loss to the Clippers this season. They lost by 39 points in Los Angeles on Nov. 24, the first game after guard Derrick Rose suffered a season-ending knee injury.
NOTES: Bulls G Kirk Hinrich missed his second straight game with a right hamstring strain and coach Tom Thibodeau does not expect Hinrich to make the trip to Charlotte for Saturday’s contest. … Bulls F Carlos Boozer returned after missing one game with a left calf strain. … Clippers coach Doc Rivers pumped up C DeAndre Jordan as an all-star reserve before Friday’s game. “He’s the best defensive player in the league, in my opinion.,” Rivers said. … After Rivers said the Bulls would be nuts to let Thibodeau coach anywhere else next season, Thibodeau made a joke about people questioning whether he might leave. “The rumor about my date with (model) Kate Upton, started by me, I’m not commenting on that, either,” he said. “So let’s move on.” … Thibodeau said he is in favor of G Derrick Rose playing for Team USA this summer at the FIBA World Cup in Spain, provided Rose is recovered from surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. “If his health is there, I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Thibodeau, who will serve as an assistant coach on the Team USA staff.
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