Clippers' playoff foe to be determined after victory over Suns, 112-101

Clippers' playoff foe to be determined after victory over Suns, 112-101
Clippers forward Blake Griffin protects the ball as he drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

There wasn't much of an air of finality to the end of the Clippers' regular season.

The Clippers didn't know what seed they would be in the Western Conference playoffs or whom they would play, not even after a 112-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at US Airways Center slightly improved their postseason positioning.

This was about all that's certain: The Clippers will be either the second- or third-seeded team and will have home-court advantage, with their playoff opener coming Saturday or Sunday at Staples Center.

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said his team would probably gather to watch the season's final games Wednesday. That's when the Clippers will learn whether their first-round playoff opponent will be the Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks.

Yep, things are still that unsettled going into the last day of the NBA regular season.

The Clippers (56-26) will enter the playoffs as one of the league's hottest teams after having won seven consecutive games and 14 of their last 15.

"It's a great spot to be in," Clippers forward Blake Griffin said, "but you can always look back and say, 'What if we won this game, that game' we could have solidified [a No. 2 seed] maybe, but whatever."

They endured a bit of a sloppy finish Tuesday, Rivers putting starters Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan back in for most of the final three minutes after Phoenix had shaved what had been a 30-point deficit to 11.

Griffin made his first six shots on the way to 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists as the Clippers completed their first season sweep of the Suns.

Paul notched a personal milestone on a night full of them for the Clippers, having played in all 82 games for the first time in his 10-year career. The point guard collected 22 points and six assists.

Jordan snagged 14 rebounds to go with his 13 points, giving him a franchise record of 1,226 rebounds that surpassed the 1,216 by Swen Nater for the San Diego Clippers in 1979-80.

Jamal Crawford scored 10 points to give him 15,956 for his career, moving past Hall of Famer Pete Maravich for 104th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

"It is fitting," Rivers said of Crawford overtaking Maravich. "They're both ultra scorers."

About the only drama involving the game was internal. Paul and Griffin engaged in a brief argument about missed opportunities near the end of the second quarter before Paul walked away.

"It's a great thing for two guys like that to not settle for going up to the locker room up 23 [points]," Griffin said. "It's kind of a perfectionist thing on both of our parts."

Said Paul: "I think it just shows that we're always trying to get it right."


Archie Goodwin had 18 points for the Suns (39-43), who closed the season with losses in 10 of their last 11 games.


Rivers, who earned his 700th win, acknowledged before the game that his team entered the season assuming it would make the playoffs. Now that they're here, what preceded them no longer matters.

"No matter if we won 60 games or 50 games in the regular season," Crawford said, "everybody was going to be like, 'Yeah, let's see what they do in the playoffs,' so we kind of have graduated to that stage."

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