Clippers will open playoffs at home after 110-103 win over Nuggets

Clippers will open playoffs at home after 110-103 win over Nuggets
Nuggets guard Randy Foye passes around Clippers center DeAndre Jordan at the rim in the first half. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

When the game started Monday night, the Clippers had dropped from the third seed in the Western Conference to the fifth seed.

When the Clippers found the energy to finally put away the Denver Nuggets, 110-103, at Staples Center, they had moved back up to the third spot.


By winning their final regular-season home game, the Clippers were guaranteed of having home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and of earning the second, third or fifth seed in the super-tough Western Conference.

Yet despite all that moving and shaking, the Clippers' opponent in the playoffs still hasn't been determined. They could face one of five teams in the first round.

The Clippers (55-26) have put themselves in this position by playing their best basketball at the right time, extending their winning streak to six games, with wins in 14 of their last 15 games.

The Clippers will play their regular-season finale Tuesday night at Phoenix and then wait until the regular season is over Wednesday night before finding out who they will meet when the playoffs start this weekend.

"I don't think most teams care," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said about the playoff seedings. "I've talked to a couple of coaches that are friends that are in the playoffs and it's like a tape recorder. 'Does it matter?' It's going to be a hard series.

"I'm sure a couple of teams would rather play a couple of other teams. But at the end of the day, even when you get those teams, they are going to be hard. There's nobody not good in the West. So, you're going to have a hard series."

It wasn't easy for the Clippers to get by a 30-51 Nuggets team going nowhere.

The Clippers were tied at 31-31 after the first quarter, trailed 57-54 at halftime, led 83-78 after the third quarter and were down 96-90 midway through the fourth quarter.

For the Clippers to get the victory, it took J.J. Redick continuing his tremendous play, DeAndre Jordan dominating the backboards, Blake Griffin staying solid, Chris Paul running the show as usual and the Clippers picking up their defensive intensity.

Paul took over in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of his 17 points to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds.

Griffin had 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Redick had 20 points and Jordan had 20 points, 21 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Griffin's three-point play followed by Jamal Crawford's three-point play — which was his first field goal of the game after missing his first five shots — tied the score at 96-96 with 3:02 remaining.

Then Jordan stepped up, making two free throws after he was intentionally fouled.


Paul put the final stamp on the game, making a back-breaking three-pointer for a 101-97 Clippers lead that had the All-Star point guard pumping his fist.

"I don't think we had great effort tonight," Rivers said, "or great focus tonight overall. But they played hard."

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner