Clippers close when it counts

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Clippers moved a half-game behind the Utah Jazz for the fourth seed in the Western Conference with their 112-101 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at the Staples Center.

The Clippers (48-31) have just three games remaining in their season to try for home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Jazz (48-30) play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said before the game that it would be great to get the fourth spot, but even if both the Clippers and Jazz win all their remaining games, the Clippers still won’t get home court. So Rivers tries not to worry about the race, he said.

“All we can do is our job,” Rivers said after the game. “We can try to win each game. If we get it, great. If we don’t get it, we’ll be ready. But you always would rather have it than not is the way I always look at it.”

Rivers has liked his team’s play in the last 10 games. He likened their recent success to the playoffs in that no matter what kind of game they play, the Clippers are figuring out ways to get wins.

“Some of the games we’ve played well, and some of the games we haven’t, but overall we’ve won the games,” Rivers said. “That’s what you do in the playoffs. I can guarantee you you’re not going to play great every night in the playoffs. But you still have to find a way to win that game. Right now, that’s what we’re doing.”

Blake Griffin led the way with 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting, while two other Clippers scored over 20 points. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle praised Griffin’s development before the game.

“He’s been one of my favorite players to watch because he’s just such a unique talent,” Carlisle said, adding jokingly that Griffin has a captivating personality “even if he is a bit of a flopper.”

Clippers started the game 7-0, then extended their lead to 33-16 after JJ Redick completed a four-point play. JJ Barea cut the Clippers lead to 11 before the first quarter ended by completing a three-point play after being fouled on a reverse layup.

Mavs went on 10-2 run to pull to within eight in the second quarter, but the Clippers responded and took a 62-49 lead into halftime.

Dallas closed to within seven after Yogi Ferrell stole the ball from Chris Paul in the backcourt and scored. The Clippers went on an 11-0 run and took an 84-67 lead with 3:43 left in the third quarter.

Rivers said before the game that in the game the Clippers won against the Mavericks at the start of the season, they did a good job of running the floor. But in their next two games, Los Angeles didn’t have many fast break points.

“We clearly have to get out on the break and at a better pace,” Rivers said.

The Clippers did just that on Wednesday, outscoring the Mavericks 22-7 in fast break points. The Mavericks did not score a single point in transition in the first half.

NOTES

Clippers: Won their fourth straight game, and eighth in their last 10Evened the season series at 2-2 against Dallas.

Mavericks: Nowitzki returned after missing Tuesday night’s game with a sore Achilles tendon.

UP NEXT

Clippers: Saturday at San Antonio.

Mavericks: Host San Antonio on Friday.

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