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Clippers clinch playoff berth with 108-95 victory over Jazz

Clippers clinch playoff berth with 108-95 victory over Jazz
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan lets out a roar near Utah's Gordon Hayward after dunking in the first half. (Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

In a game of such magnitude, the Clippers had to do battle with their composure and a worthy opponent in the Utah Jazz.

As such, the Clippers regained their self-control at the moment of truth, following the lead of super-subs Jamal Crawford and Marreese Speights in making a 108-95 statement win over the Jazz on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center.

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And in the process of Crawford delivering a game-high 28 points and Speights producing 11 points and 10 rebounds, the Clippers clinched their six consecutive playoff spot in the Western Conference by winning four of their last five games.

"In the second half, they came out and we got frustrated a little bit," Coach Doc Rivers said. "But then the second unit came in and saved the day for us. So, overall it was a good win for us."

The gravity of the situation was not lost on the Clippers, the victory leaving them only half a game behind the fourth-seeded Jazz in the West race for home-court advantage.

The win helped the Clippers take a 3-1 lead over the Jazz in the four-game season series, giving the Clippers the tiebreaker.

Rivers said they watched this game "very closely" because the Jazz may just be the Clippers' playoff opponent.

"You take more notes during the game," he said. "Like we put an emphasis on telling those [Clippers] guys telling us their plays, cause the players hear the plays. You saw it all game, guys turning around yelling the plays. But we've got two weeks. There'll be some changes in both of us a little bit if we see each other again."

The Clippers tried to threaten their own cause, blowing all but two points of their 16-point lead in the third quarter, coming unglued when Chris Paul and Crawford each picked up a technical foul in the quarter.

"I can't speak for Chris, [but] my emotions got the best of me for a second and then I just had to get it off my chest and calm down and settle back in," Crawford said. "I thought I did a pretty good job of that going into the fourth quarter."

Did he ever.

Crawford started to dance with the basketball in the fourth quarter, moving his way to 17 points, missing only one of his five shots in the quarter, one of his two three-point shots.

He was eight for 12 from the field, three for six from three-point range and nine for nine from the free-throw line.

Crawford joined with reserves Speights, Austin Rivers, Paul Pierce and Raymond Felton to turn a two-point lead at the end of the third quarter into an 11-point bulge in the fourth that basically put away the Jazz, which got 26 points and 14 rebounds from Rudy Gobert.

"It really started on the defensive end," Speights said. "We was being aggressive with the guards they got over there and then just carried onto the offense. Jamal got it going and then Austin and then myself, just going out there playing with a lot of energy, holding it down until the starters came in and just finished it off."

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Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner

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