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Clippers can't afford many slip-ups in tight playoff race

It would seem that the Clippers are under a lot of pressure because all of their remaining games have special meaning.

Winning or losing could determine the Clippers’ playoff seeding in the Western Conference, or it could leave them out of the postseason.

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They can’t afford to go on any losing streaks with 18 regular-season games left. They can’t afford to do anything but play their best basketball.

With that in mind, Clippers coach Doc Rivers was asked if there is mounting pressure on his team under these circumstances.

“That’s a question I’ve actually never known the answer to,” Rivers said. “I feel the same way that I felt last week, or two weeks ago. But I’m not playing, thank goodness for that.

“I don’t know. I don’t feel it. I think our guys are pretty comfortable in their own skin or their own team way. They really are. I don’t think anybody can ever tell that. I think you’ll see it in the play. And if you don’t, then the answer would be yes. But I don’t think so. No.”

The Clippers are in a battle with the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets for one of the final playoff spots.

The Clippers are not far behind the Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs in the Western playoff race.

The Clippers will play all of those teams before the season is over.

Etc.

Jawun Evans was back Friday night after missing 17 games because of a sore lower abdominal injury that kept him out about seven weeks. Rivers said Evans is skilled at applying “ball pressure” on opposing guards all over the court. But Rivers said he expected Evans’ playing time to be limited against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Evans played nine scoreless minutes.

Rivers said Danilo Gallinari, who is out because of a non-displaced fracture of his right hand, was running Friday at the team’s shootaround and “may be getting a little closer” to returning. Gallinari has missed the last seven games because of the injury.

Rivers said Avery Bradley, who is out because of a sports hernia, “is not close at all.” He has missed the last eight games.

CLIPPERS

VS. ORLANDO

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

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On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 570, 1330.

Update: The Magic allow 109.4 points per game, the sixth most in the NBA. The Magic also allow teams to make 47.3% of their shots, tied for the fourth-highest shooting percentage in the league.

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