Clippers edge closer to home-court advantage

One more victory and the Clippers will have home-court advantage in the Western Conference playoffs.

They moved into position to host a first-round playoff opener by running past the Portland Trail Blazers, 93-77, on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

The fourth-seeded Clippers and fifth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies have identical 55-26 records, but Los Angeles owns the tiebreaker and would play host to Memphis if the two teams stay on course to meet in the playoffs.

The Clippers won the Pacific Division and the season series, three games to one, over the Grizzlies.

Now all the Clippers have to do to assure that home-court edge is beat the Kings on Wednesday night in the season finale at Sacramento.

"It's our 55th win of the year and we're just trying to add them up," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said after his team's sixth victory in a row. "We're just trying to put ourselves in position tomorrow night to get home court."

The Grizzlies finish the season Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz in Memphis.

Because the Clippers don't play until 7:30 and the Grizzlies play at 5 p.m. PDT, Los Angeles could know the result of the Memphis-Utah game before playing at Sacramento.

The Clippers are one game behind the third-seeded Denver Nuggets (56-25), who host the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.

If the Nuggets lose and the Clippers win, they would move up to the third seed in the West because L.A. owns that tiebreaker as well, as the division winner.

"Tomorrow we are going to prepare for Sacramento and try to win another basketball game on the road," Del Negro said. "And how it plays itself out, it plays itself out."

Chauncey Billups was back after missing the last eight games with a strained right groin, and Caron Butler returned after missing the second half of Saturday night's game in Memphis with a sore right knee.

Butler was on his game, scoring 22 points on nine-for-14 shooting, four for seven on three-pointers.

Billups had only four points on four free throws. He missed all five of his shots in about 18 minutes.

"I thought physically he looked all right," Del Negro said. "He just looked a little out of sync. He missed some shots he usually makes, but it was nice to have him out there."

Blake Griffin had 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, DeAndre Jordan 10 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots and Chris Paul eight points and 11 assists.

None of the starters played in the fourth quarter, allowing them to rest their legs for the game at Sacramento.

"No one played a lot of minutes with the back-to-back tomorrow night," Del Negro said. "So we should be rested.

Again, it was the Clippers' second unit that gave the team the separation needed to pull away from the Trail Blazers.

It was the work of Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe and Ryan Hollins in the second quarter that allowed the Clippers to take control of the game.

That group built a 16-point lead in the second quarter by playing defense and running up and down the court.

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