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NBA scores 2016: Clippers bench leads the charge without Blake Griffin or Josh Smith

Jamal Crawford and the Clippers bench is thriving, plus Draymond Green chasing tirple-doubles and everything else from NBA Sunday.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers bench has a message for the rest of the NBA: They don't need Blake Griffin. Jamal Crawford scored 26 points and the Los Angeles bench scored 58 points as the Clippers coasted to an easy 120-93 win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

The Clippers have won four in a row and are 15-3 since losing Griffin, who is expected to miss another four to six weeks after punching a Clippers equipment staffer, due to injury. While Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick have stepped up in Griffin's absence, it's the play of the bench that's taking the Clippers to new heights -- they've been excelling since trading away Josh Smith.

Crawford led the way against the Bulls, but Austin Rivers and Wesley Johnson gave the Clippers valuable minutes off the bench, too. Rivers had 16 points and Johnson added 11 as the Clippers reserves outscored Chicago's by 40. It's a recurring theme -- during the current four-game winning streak, the Clippers bench is outscoring the other teams' backups 184-78.

They've been without Smith for five games, and, like the Detroit Pistons last season, the team has found a new groove without the enigmatic veteran. Smith wasn't hogging minutes -- averaging only 14.3 minutes per game -- but the bench is firing without him.

Against the Bulls on Sunday, Crawford was running the offense and Johnson and Rivers were hitting open shot after open shot from deep. Rivers was 5 of 6 from three and Johnson was 3 of 5. The Clippers moved the ball at will with crisp passes and sharp cuts against a Bulls defense that had no answer for the fast-moving Clippers.

Johnson was a huge relief for Paul Pierce, who struggled mightily in the first quarter, but it's not like the Clippers starters were slacking. Paul had 19 points and seven assists, Jordan had a monstrous 17 points and 20 boards and Redick was 4 of 4 from deep on his way to 21 points. Griffin, whether he's going to be traded or not, will be missed by the Clippers -- he's one of the best big men in the league -- but the Clippers are discovering that they can move the ball and get open shots without him.

The Bulls, meanwhile, are on an opposite trajectory of the Clippers -- they're in free fall. Chicago has lost eight of 12 games and cannot buy a bucket, struggling to make any shot outside of the paint. Sunday's game against the Clippers was no different. They were 17 of 31 from inside the paint in the first half, but only 4 of 17 from outside it. They trailed by only four, but the Clippers obliterated them in the final two quarters as the Bulls hit 5 of 15 from deep for the game.

In the current 12-game slump, the Bulls are hitting a miserable 32.3 percent from deep -- down from the 35.5 percent they're shooting this season. There is no quick fix on the horizon. Rose can get to the lane still, but he's making only 25 percent of this threes. Butler, meanwhile, is making 32.9 percent. Nikola Mirotic, who is out until after the All-Star break, is missed, but he's making 35.4 percent from deep. Doug McDermott and Kirk Hinrich are the only two Bulls who make more than 40 percent from behind the arc.

The Bulls need some offense. Letting Rose and Butler take turns driving to the lane and creating isn't doing the trick. Taking a look at their foe from Sunday may help: The Clippers are winning with ball movement and by hitting open shots. And they can beat anyone because of it.

3 other things from Sunday

Draymond Green got the triple-double he was chasing against the 76ers.

After the Warriors escaped Philadelphia with a buzzer-beater win, Green told reporters they almost lost because he was chasing a triple-double. He finished the job on Sunday in Madison Square Garden with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 116-95 win -- and he was 9 of 9 from the field. The Warriors improved to 44-4 and are somehow getting better and better. They blew out the Knicks despite Stephen Curry scoring only 13 points. It helped that Klay Thompson was on fire yet again. He led the Warriors with 34 points and was 5 of 6 from deep. He's been unconscious over the past three games.

That's what makes the Warriors so scary. It's not just Curry -- there's a handful of players that can take over.

Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and the Heat are finding a rhythm.

The Heat have been consistently inconsistent, continually reeling off winning streak after losing streak. They're currently on an uptick after a dominant 105-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday that gave them their fourth win in a row -- their longest winning streak this season. The Heat had lost seven of eight before this current streak, and have been doing it with an offense that moves quickly. They push the ball up the court and move the ball well while still relying on their veteran stars Bosh and Wade to do the heavy lifting. Bosh had 18 points and Wade added 17 as the Heat passed the Hawks in the Southeast Division standings. They currently have the fourth-best record in the conference. And their current four-game streak has come with Hassan Whiteside sidelined with a hip injury. The big man is one of the league's best shot blockers, but the Heat are thriving without him. When Whiteside returns, Miami will need to bring him back into the fold without slowing their pace.

Mario Hezonja is finding some confidence.

The Orlando Magic took Hezonja with the fifth pick in the draft, and the brazen rookie was supposed to bring confidence and playmaking to the NBA immediately. It didn't happen, but the rookie is starting to find a groove. He had the best game of his young career as the Magic ended an eight-game losing streak with a 119-114 win over the Boston Celtics, scoring 17 points in 33 minutes. Hezonja was 7 of 13 from the field and 3 of 6 from deep, but he was also getting crunch time minutes. He's averaging only 13.8 minutes per game, but with the Magic struggling, he's seen an uptick in playing time. He's taking advantage. Over the last three games he is averaging 10 points in 20 minutes per game. The Magic have a talented young core. If Hezonja can keep improving, they're future looks even more bright.

This season, meanwhile, isn't exactly over yet for the Magic. Sure, they had lost eight in a row, but at one point they were in the thick of the playoff hunt. A win over the Celtics -- who had won five in a row -- shows they're still capable.

Play of the night

Not much went well for the Bulls on Sunday, but at least Rose put Paul in the spin cycle.

5 fun things

J.J. Redick missed a wide-open layup right in front of the Clippers owner.

Draymond Green airballed a free throw with textbook form.

Chris Bosh is the best post-game interviewee in the league.

Carmelo Anthony palmed Stephen Curry's face.

The Mavericks won't stop making fun of Dirk Nowitzki's new haircut.


Clippers 120, Bulls 93 (Clips Nation recap Blog a Bull recap)

Heat 105, Hawks 87 (Hot Hot Hoops recapPeachtree Hoops recap)

Magic 119, Celtics 114 (Orlando Pinstriped Post recapCeltics Blog recap)

Mavericks 91, Suns 78 (Mavs Moneyball recapBright Side of the Sun recap)

Warriors 116, Knicks 95 (Golden State of Mind recapPosting and Toasting recap)

Trail Blazers 96, Timberwolves 93 (Blazers' Edge recapCanis Hoopus recap)

Hornets 101, Lakers 82 (At the Hive recapSilver Screen and Roll recap)