Author Topic: Clippers enter their game with a five-game winning streak Jersey  (Read 827 times)


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Los Angeles (49-31) is tied with the Utah Jazz (49-31) for fourth place in the Western Conference with each team having two games remaining. The clubs are guaranteed to meet in the first round of the playoffs.
If the Clippers finish tied with Utah, Los Angeles will gain home-court advantage because it won the season series with the Jazz.
They routed the Houston Rockets 125-96 on Monday night to remain tied with Utah in the race for the No. 4 playoff seed. Both teams are 50-31 with one game remaining before they meet in the playoffs with only home court to be decided.
LOS ANGELES -- It's all down to one game for the Los Angeles Clippers to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs.
"It's about us," Blake Griffin said. "This next game will be, too."
"Our destiny is in our hands," said DeAndre Jordan, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Clippers host Sacramento on Wednesday, while the Jazz host San Antonio.
Chris Paul scored 19 points and Griffin added 18 in the Clippers' sixth straight victory. Since they didn't clinch home court, coach Doc Rivers will play his usual starters against the Kings.
Former Clipper Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 17 points. James Harden shot 2 of 9 for 14 points, well under his 29.3 average. He missed 5 of 6 3-pointers while playing 24 minutes.
"I think the 81st game (of the season) stopped Harden," Rivers said.
Neither team led by more than eight points in the first half before the Clippers broke the game open in the third.
They outscored the Rockets 36-12 to take a 97-69 lead.
"They had to win," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said "They came out in the second half with a little bit more determination than we had."
Griffin's two free throws launched a 24-3 run, including 13 in a row highlighted by Jordan's dunk off Paul's alley-oop pass and J.J. Redick's steal and 3-pointer. Griffin scored eight in the third, while Paul and Redick added seven apiece as the Clippers shot 52 percent.
They fell to 13-2 in the second game of back-to-backs, having won at Sacramento on Sunday. They were 8-12 last season in such contests. F Ryan Anderson scored 12 points in the first half and then sat in the second, having recently returned from a right ankle sprain. With Harden at the line in the second quarter, super fan Clipper Darrell yelled, "Hey, James." Harden put his finger to his lips in a shushing gesture and then missed both foul shots. ... Reserve centers Clint Capela and Nene both sat out.
Clippers: Rivers earned his 216th victory to surpass Mike Dunleavy for most regular-season wins in franchise history. ... The Clippers are 9-6 against the Rockets since Rivers took over in 2013-14. ... They went 1-2 to avoid a season sweep by the Rockets. ... North Carolina coach Roy Williams attended.
Paul Pierce scored all of his 10 points in the game's final five minutes. He moved into 15th on the NBA career scoring list with 26,397 points. The 39-year-old veteran hit a pair of 3-pointers, delighting the starters on the bench who leaped to their feet and waved towels.
"I know how much Paul has given to this game," said Paul, who told Rivers how many points his teammate needed to overtake former Celtic John Havlicek. "He went in there and knocked it right out."
Harden picked up his fifth foul and his teammates hoisted two air balls while being limited to three free throws during the Clippers' dominating spurt. Houston was held to 34 percent shooting in the third.
"We try to get through this as best as possible," Harden said. "Especially when you have four or five guys out that are in the rotation."
Harden got his fourth foul with 2.8 seconds left in the first half, not long after Griffin and Jordan each received their third. Jamal Crawford scored the final five points to put the Clippers ahead 61-57 at the break. Crawford finished with 19 points off the bench.
Houston (54-26) has nothing at stake from a standings perspective and will be playing the second of a back-to-back set. The Rockets defeated the Kings 135-128 Sunday at Sacramento behind a triple-double by MVP candidate James Harden, who registered 35 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists. Harden had plenty of support, with Clint Capela and Lou Williams adding 18 points and Bobby Brown 16 points.
The Rockets will have the home-court advantage over the Oklahoma City Thunder (46-34) in the first round Darian Thompson Authentic Jersey of the playoffs.
Harden is in a battle with the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook for MVP, but the Rockets star pointed to his team’s superior record as a factor in the race Sunday.
“I think that’s the most important thing. I thought winning is what this is about — period,” Harden said. “I’m not going to get in depth with all that, but I thought winning was the most important thing. If you set your team up in a position to have a chance, at the ultimate goal, that’s the most important thing.”
Rockets forward Ryan Anderson said of his teammate, “He’s a special player. There are not a lot of players who come around like him, and he does it effortlessly. … He’s having a ridiculous year, and he’s leading us. He’s the MVP in my opinion.”
The Rockets have been the model of consistency. The win on Sunday was the third time in four seasons they reached the 54-win mark.
Houston coach Mike D’Antoni rested Eric Gordon along with backup forward Trevor Ariza and center Nene on Sunday. It was not known which players would suit up for the game against the Clippers. The Rockets won the two previous contests between the two teams, 140-116 on Dec. 30 and 122-103 on March 1.
The Clippers should expect to see an up-tempo offense to test their recent defensive prowess. The Rockets scored 78 first-half points against the Kings, the 10th time this season the Houston scored at least 70 points in a half after registering that total only once last season.