LOS ANGELES — The Clippers came roaring out of the opening tip and kept on going to their 15th consecutive victory.
Boosted by an early 24-9 lead their starters provided, Los Angeles beat Boston 106-77 on Thursday night to become the first team to win that many in a row since the Celtics four years ago.
Matt Barnes tied his season high with 21 points off the bench, fellow reserve Jamal Crawford added 17 points and Chris Paul had 11 assists as the Clippers scored their sixth straight blowout victory. They haven’t had a close win during the streak since Nov. 28, when they beat Minnesota by six points.
“Shows we have a lot of depth. I’ve probably sat out more fourth quarters this season than any of my previous seven seasons,” Paul said. “It’s a really good feeling now, a good vibe because everyone is enjoying it.”
Blake Griffin had 15 points, Caron Butler added 14 and Lamar Odom 13 rebounds to help the Clippers improve the NBA’s best record to 23-6.
“Some people may be impressed by the record, but we can’t be,” Paul said. “We’re not measured by our regular-season wins.”
Griffin agreed, saying, “We want to be winning in April, May and June.”
Kevin Garnett scored 16 points for Boston, which committed 18 turnovers and never led in dropping to .500 at 14-14 with its fifth loss in seven games. Paul Pierce and Jeff Green added 12 points each to go with 10 apiece from Jason Terry and Rajon Rondo.
Boston’s winning streak extended to 19 games in 2008-09.
“Every individual on our team wanted to beat them and every individual tried to do it by themselves instead of just playing our game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
It was the Clippers’ largest-ever win against Boston, coming six years to the day of their previous largest, a 100-77 win on Dec. 27, 2006.
“I thought we came out with too much respect. We wanted to back off some of their bigs and Blake hit some shots that he doesn’t usually hit,” Garnett said. “They came out with a lot of confidence and they packed the paint and that is the reason why have won 15 in a row. They had us on our heels all night.”
Barnes had the Clippers’ first five points in a 9-0 run that opened the fourth quarter and boosted their lead to 90-67. Willie Green briefly played; otherwise the Clippers’ other starters rested to close out the game.
The Celtics were held to 10 points in the final 12 minutes.
“We just want to continue to build good habits,” Barnes said. “We jumped on them early and didn’t let them have any breathing room.”
The Clippers’ starters and their bench played to a draw, scoring 53 points each one game after the reserves outscored the starters in a win over Denver on Christmas.
“It still feels like we can get better,” said Ronny Turiaf, who had four points and five rebounds. “We’re just having fun. We’re in the now. We’re just trying to ride the wave.”
Garnett had six points in the third when the Celtics were narrowly outscored 22-20, but still trailed 82-67. The Clippers’ 9-0 run pushed their lead to 21 points before Boston went on a 10-4 run, including 3-pointers by Courtney Lee and Rondo to end the quarter.
The game got chippy at times. In the third, Jared Sullinger was called for a flagrant-1 foul for grabbing the front of Griffin on his way up to dunk. Then Butler and Pierce emerged from a big mass both holding onto the ball, leading to a jump ball. In the first, Rondo was lying on the ball and Paul tried to take it out from under him on the sideline, leading to a testy moment.
The Celtics cut their deficit to four points early in the second quarter – the closest they came after the opening quarter – with consecutive 3-pointers by Terry and Lee before the Clippers’ second unit rebuilt the double-digit lead the starters had created. Crawford scored 13 points for Los Angeles, highlighted by a fast-break floater and a rainbow 3. He scored the final four points to keep the Clippers ahead 60-47 heading into halftime.