Clippers' bench too much for Bulls
Remember during the championship era when the Bulls were on the West Coast and Luc Longley hurt his shoulder while body surfing?
The Bulls experienced a related problem Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers -- they waded into water that was far too deep.
The Clippers took a discarded page from the Bulls' playbook and buried the visitors with their second string. That group outscored the Bulls 35-25 in the second quarter, and the Clippers cruised to a 101-80 victory at the Staples Center.
The Bulls shot just 33.7 percent and piled up 12 turnovers in the first half. They were never very competitive after getting blitzed by the opposing bench.
The Clippers piled up 35 bench points in the first half, 17 by former Bulls first-round pick Jamal Crawford, whose been one of the NBA's most efficient scorers this season.
Late in the third quarter, Crawford caught a cross-court pass while standing a couple of inches from the out-of-bounds line. He fired a contested 3-pointer that ended up being a perfect bank shot.
Crawford's hot shooting this season appears to be no accident. He says he spent the summer working on his shot for the first time in a 12-year pro career.
The game was tied at 14-14 late in the first quarter when Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro started sending in the subs.
The home team opened the second quarter with a 15-4 run, taking a 33-19 lead with seven minutes left in the first half on 2 free throws by Eric Bledsoe. The Bulls never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul hasn't beaten the Bulls since Derrick Rose joined the team. He still hasn't won with Rose on the floor, but Paul did break a personal streak stretching over three years in New Orleans and a single game last season with the Clippers.
Paul didn't post big stats (8 points, 10 assists), but he helped set up a quality performance by Blake Griffin (26 points, 10 rebounds). Crawford finished with 22 points, while Matt Barnes added 13 off the bench.
Carlos Boozer played well, finishing with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Richard Hamilton hit 6 of 11 shots for 14 points. Otherwise, it was a rough night for the Bulls' starters.
Joakim Noah, who started the night averaging a career-best 16 points, scored just 4 against the Clippers, going 0-for-6 from the field with 7 rebounds.
Kirk Hinrich had 1 point, 10 assists and 5 turnovers. Luol Deng scored 14 points, but hit just 5 of 16 shot attempts.
The Bulls' reserves shot even worse than the starters (31.2 percent). Their one bright moment was a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter that cut the lead to 13.
It caused Del Negro to call a timeout and send three starters back into the game. The Clips scored the next 6 points, making it 93-74 with five minutes remaining.
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