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Out with the old: Clips take streak into new year

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Out with the old: Clips take streak into new year

LOS ANGELES (AP) Having wrapped up December with just the third 16-0 month in NBA history, the Los Angeles Clippers face tough challenges starting the new year.

They'll play four games this week, with two opponents having winning records and the other at .500. The Clippers take their franchise-record 17-game winning streak into Denver on Tuesday, where the Nuggets are 9-1 at home.

``It'll be a big test for us,'' Blake Griffin said.

Denver is the first game of a back-to-back, with a visit to Golden State on Wednesday. The Warriors handed the Clippers their first loss of the season on Nov. 3. The Clippers return home on Friday to host the Lakers, a team they've already beaten once and who are back to .500. Then comes the second game of another back-to-back against the Warriors.

``We're going to lose at some point, but this is a magical run,'' said Caron Butler, who had 29 points in a 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday that maintained the league's best record at 25-6.

The Clippers haven't lost since Nov. 26.

``I want to do this every year,'' coach Vinny Del Negro said. ``This has got to be a staple of how we go about doing our business. We're thinking bigger than the streak.''

They have proven they can win on successive nights during the streak, having done so on Dec. 8 against Phoenix and the next night against Toronto, then again on Dec. 11 at Chicago and the following night in Milwaukee.

``We're just trying to build as many wins as possible,'' Chris Paul said. ``Last week was a tough week (wins over Denver, Boston and Utah twice). We don't look past anybody.''

The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-96 San Antonio Spurs, which included Del Negro, and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated in a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago.

``I am amazed because I haven't done it since I've been in the league,'' said Paul, a seven-year veteran who had 19 points and nine assists against Utah.

The Clippers kept their streak alive despite Griffin scoring just seven points due to foul trouble. Their bench came through again, with Jamal Crawford scoring 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Butler sat in the fourth quarter after playing ``out of his mind'' as Griffin put it in the opening quarter, when the veteran scored 17 points and hit five of his six 3-pointers.

``It's a tribute to everybody in here,'' Griffin said. ``Everybody has been a huge part one night or the other. It's a selfless attitude the team has taken on. This is the most fun I've ever had playing basketball.''

Against the Jazz, Crawford keyed a 10-5 run to open the fourth, highlighted by a 3-pointer and a fast break pull-up jumper that helped the Clippers extend their lead to 89-81. Paul and Griffin didn't join the second unit until 5:55 remained and Utah had closed within four on a basket by Derrick Favors.

That was as close as the Jazz got. The Clippers made 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch and their defense held Utah to one field goal in the final 3:38.

The Clippers have been winning without injured veterans Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill.

``We really haven't had an opportunity to see what it looks like,'' Paul said of the entire team.

Still, they've won 11 of their 17 games by 12 points or more, and their defense has allowed 100 points just three times during the streak. They've been winning so handily that Paul and Griffin rarely have to play in the fourth quarter. Both are averaging career low minutes in the final period this season.

``We expect to win every time we step out on the court,'' Butler said. ``We have a good mixture of young guys and veterans, and we do a good job of policing ourselves. Coach lets us control the environment. We do a great job being unselfish on and off the court.''

After putting away the Jazz, Butler headed out to join his teammates at a dinner organized by Ryan Hollins. And no, the streak wasn't going to be part of the conversation.

``It's something that kind of keeps happening,'' Griffin said. ``It's not something we talk about.''

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Redskins Talk and Friends: How to watch

Redskins Talk and Friends: How to watch

Amid internal pressure from investors, last week the Washington Redskins announced they will conduct a 'thorough review' of their team name. 

On Thursday, the trio from the Redskins Talk podcast - JP Finlay, Mitch Tischler and Pete Hailey - will be joined by former Washington Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot at 5 p.m. on Thursday to talk about everything going on around the team's name.

Want to ask the group a question? Leave it in the event discussion on Facebook.

When: Thursday, July 9
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Where: NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page (click here)

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Listen to the full episode of Sports Uncovered's Sean Taylor: The NFL Superstar We Didn't Get to Know, click here.

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Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

With the Washington Redskins' name change dominating headlines across the sports world, former players have been asked a multitude of questions to get their thoughts on the team's controversial nickname.

One of those has been, "Do you remember people having a problem with the name while you were on the team?"

The answers have, of course, been mixed. Santana Moss told NBC Sports Washington's Matt Weyrich that he first noticed a problem years into his Washington tenure getting off the team bus in Seattle, while Brian Mitchell has said he's been dealing with the negative reaction around the name since the start of his career in 1990.

On Thursday, former Washington tight end Chris Cooley joined the Kevin Sheehan show on The Team 980 and described his unique experience receiving feedback from Native Americans on the team's name.

"It's probably time to change the name, and we're in that world where you can change it, but it doesn't mean that I believe it had anything to do with anything racial. It didn't," Cooley said. "Guys I played for didn't believe that, over 75 tribes that I traveled to didn't feel that way six years ago when I went to those reservations and 30 or 40 more that I went to by myself.

"You know what, it's completely fine if you change your mind on something like that," Cooley said. "And I'll be all for it, but when I was with the Washington Redskins I don't believe anybody felt it was a racially driven name."

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Cooley traveled to several reservations across the country to gain an understanding of a culture his former team's likeness was representing. Instead of having to tie his opinion to polls and other methods for gathering a group of people's opinion, he got his information straight from the source.

"The overwhelming majority was, 'Don't forget us,' 'Don't care,' 'That's fine but I'm a Cowboys fan,'" Cooley said. "It was just a conversation that was had very comfortably."

Cooley emphasized going to reservations alone in order to get honest answers from its residents. If he were there with the Redskins in a larger group, he feared he wouldn't get the same feedback as if he were alone. Ultimately, after speaking to hundreds of Native Americans, the Wyoming native got a similar response to his questions.

RELATED: NEW NAME REPORTEDLY WON'T INCLUDE NATIVE AMERICAN IMAGERY

"We would go to casinos, we would go to rodeos, and [I'd] ask them like 'Hey how do you feel about the Redskins' name?'" he said. "People would tell us, and it was more than 9-to-1 that felt positively about it, at least on the trips that I went."

However, as Cooley acknowledged, people can and are allowed to change their minds. The response a few years ago may have been positive, but that may not be the case anymore. 

According to a report from the Associated Press, more than a dozen Native American groups sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to force Washington to change its name. 

So, in the end, Cooley isn't going to be "an old man on the front porch" as he called it, and push against change just to keep things the way they were. 

"Times change with people and all I'm saying is I don't feel like in my time there it was ever racially driven," he said. "But I'm also not going to sit here argue for it. If people want it changed then let's change it."

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