(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers will carry a five-game winning streak into Oracle Arena Christmas night to take on their Pacific Division rivals, the Golden State Warriors.
The Clips just swept a four-game homestand and their last loss came on Dec. 12 in Brooklyn. They've built a two-game lead in the Pacific, although it's not over the Warriors, it's over the upstart Phoenix Suns.
The Clippers' most recent victory was a comeback win on Sunday over the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime. LA hung on for a 120-116 win to extend their winning streak.
LA was down five points with less than a minute to go.
Jamal Crawford finished an uncontested layup for a 106-104 margin with 13 seconds left, and Minnesota burned its final timeout to advance the ball to midcourt. The inbounds pass went to Kevin Martin, who was immediately doubled by Chris Paul and Crawford. Martin lost his footing, allowing Paul to jar the ball free and Crawford to scoop it up and coast in for the game-tying dunk with 7.7 on the clock.
Minnesota's Nikola Pekovic broke a 112-112 tie with under a minute left in overtime with a short hook shot over DeAndre Jordan, but Jared Dudley drained a 3 at the other end to put the hosts in front.
Paul then made 3-of-4 from the foul line around a Kevin Love sky hook, and Minnesota marched down the floor with a chance to tie or take the lead in the closing seconds. Ricky Rubio found Pekovic down low, but his shot was off the mark and Paul corralled the rebound with three ticks left.
Paul was pure on two free throws to seal the outcome.
"It's a great lesson for us," head coach Doc Rivers said. "I kept saying it throughout and down the stretch, 'It's not over. There's plenty of time. It's not over.' And I give them credit and they kind of hung in there."
Blake Griffin, the Western Conference Player of the Week, poured in 32 points and hauled in 10 rebounds. Paul had a double-double with 19 points and 13 assists.
Crawford finished with 22 points, followed by 18 from Darren Collison and 15 out of Dudley. Jordan grabbed 17 boards.
Matt Barnes was fined $25,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner upon his ejection from Sunday's game. Barnes was assessed a flagrant foul 2 for a hard foul on Love and was ejected from the contest with 56.8 remaining in the third quarter. The league downgraded Barnes' penalty to a flagrant foul 1 after a review.
The Warriors have won two in a row and three of four after Monday's road win over the Denver Nuggets, 89-81.
Golden State was down heading into the fourth quarter, but put the clamps on the Nuggets. The Warriors held Denver to 15 points over the final 12 minutes.
"It was a good win, especially because they took the lead and had a rhythm," said Golden State coach Mark Jackson. "Our guys battled. That is how you have to win on the road."
David Lee led the way for the Warriors with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson had off nights with 14 and 13 points, respectively, but combined to shoot 11-for-30.
Andre Iguodala had 12 points in his first game in Denver since signing with the Warriors in the offseason.
"I played in Philly last year on the first game of the year so I've kind of been through it. It actually wasn't that bad," noted Iguodala.
The Clippers beat the Warriors by 11 in LA on Oct. 31. Golden State has taken three of the five most recent matchups, but the Warriors have gone 6-1 in the last seven at home against the Clips.