Jamal Crawford, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School, has added to the firepower of the Los Angeles Clippers.
LOS ANGELES — If you think watching the explosive Los Angeles Clippers is fun, try playing with them.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Jamal Crawford, a graduate of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. “We almost have two starting units. We’re so deep. That’s a big strength.”
Crawford, a reserve guard, scored 22 points to help the Clippers defeat the Chicago Bulls 101-80 Saturday for their fifth victory in a row. The Clippers are in first place in the Pacific Division at 7-2.
Crawford, 32, leads the Clippers in scoring at 20.7 points per game. He is shooting 52 percent from the field and 44 percent on three-pointers. That the former Bull is putting up such numbers in 28 minutes per game speaks to the Clippers’ offensive prowess.
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“Playing with this group of guys has been so much fun,” Crawford said. “They give me confidence. In September, I’d be in the training room hanging out and I’d be like, ‘We signed him too?’ And then Chris (Paul) walks in. Blake (Griffin) walks in. DeAndre (Jordan) walks in. We were like, ‘We’re all on the same team?’
“And we haven’t even had Hall of Fame-type guys like Grant (Hill) and Chauncey (Billups), who have a wealth of knowledge, play yet. We can be unreal.”
After a disappointing season with the Portland Trail Blazers, Crawford credits a more focused offseason in Seattle for his resurgence.
“How bad things were last year was a big motivator,” said Crawford, who is with his sixth pro team. “I didn’t take any days off. I went right to my weight room at home and started doing core, treadmill, bike. … I live in the gym but I used to just play. I did a lot more drills this offseason.
“And playing for Vinny (Del Negro, coach) has been great. I’ve had more fun playing for Vinny than I’ve had my whole career. He just believes in me and my talent and always wants me in attack mode.”
Crawford scored 17 points in the second quarter to lead the Clippers to a 53-40 halftime lead.
is in a helping mood
BOSTON — Rajon Rondo made up for lost time in a big way for the Boston Celtics after missing a game because of a sprained right ankle.
Rondo had 20 assists for the second time this season and added six points to help the Celtics beat the Toronto Raptors 107-89 Saturday.
Jason Terry, a graduate of Franklin High School in Seattle, scored 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting for Boston. Paul Pierce added 19 points and six rebounds before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Any worries Boston fans might have had about Rondo’s ankle were washed away when he had seven assists in the first quarter.
Heat finishes 4-2 on trip
PHOENIX — Chris Bosh scored 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting, ailing LeBron James added 21 and the defending champion Miami Heat closed a six-game trip with a 97-88 victory in Phoenix.
The Heat, playing without Dwyane Wade for the second consecutive game because of a left-foot injury, scored the game’s last seven points to finish the trip 4-2. James, bothered by flu-like symptoms, has scored at least 20 points in each game for the 8-3 Heat.
• Mike Conley scored 20 points and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the host Charlotte Bobcats 94-87 for their eighth consecutive victory.
Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who own the league’s best record at 8-1. They arrived in Charlotte early Saturday morning after defeating the previously unbeaten New York Knicks 105-95 Friday night.
“We had a tough game last night, and then to get in here at 4 in the morning and battle a young, pesky team that’s improving is a testament to our mental toughness,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said.
• Al Jefferson scored 21 points, Gordon Hayward added 15 in his first game as a reserve this season and the Utah Jazz beat the host Washington Wizards 83-76.
Washington dropped to 0-8.