Clippers stay even with Utah for seeding, thrash resting Rockets

first_imgLOS ANGELES >> By the end of the third quarter, the Clippers stars had made their way to the bench, each having added his own touch to the statement they have combined to make over the past two weeks.The Clippers are ready for the playoffs.Seven Clippers scored in double figures in a 125-96 victory over the Houston Rockets.These were not the Rockets (54-27) who twice dominated the Clippers earlier in the season, with four key players out either for rest or minor injuries. But perhaps these are not the same Clippers either. Even Paul Pierce got in on the fun.In the penultimate regular-season game of his career, Pierce crafted a vintage performance. With the game in hand and college coach Roy Williams in the stands, he scored 10 straight points in the fourth quarter.Those final points had special meaning for Pierce, who spent most of his career with the Boston Celtics. With his final basket, Pierce moved past Boston great John Havlicek for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 26,397 points.The Clippers are locked into a first-round matchup with Utah, but the question of seeding and home-court advantage will come down to the last day of the regular season after the Jazz (50-31) beat Golden State, 105-99, in Oakland.If both teams win their final games Wednesday, the Clippers, who own the tiebreaker by virtue of beating Utah in three of their four games, will host Games 1 and 2 at Staples Center.The Clippers play host to Sacramento, while the Jazz close at home against San Antonio, which is likely to rest several players.The Clippers led just 61-57, as leading Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden seemed on pace for another triple-double. With Harden in foul trouble, however, and the Rockets without much incentive to fight back, the Clippers outscored Houston 36-12 in the period, allowing the Clippers starters to take a seat with L.A. cruising, ahead 97-69.Harden finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in 24 minutes. After playing like Western Conference afterthoughts for much of the season’s second half, the Clippers (50-31) have won six straight games and 10 of their last 12. They have won 50 games six straight seasons.What else do they have to prove in a playoff tune-up?“We all know in the playoffs your great players have to play great and your role players have to do their jobs,” Coach Doc Rivers said.The Clippers followed that recipe on Monday: The “big three” of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan combined for 51 points in the first three quarters, with Paul scoring 19, Griffin adding 18 and Jordan logging another double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds).Role players? Jamal Crawford scored 19 off the bench, top wing defender Luc Mbah a Moute added a season-high 15.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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