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Clippers Clinch the Pacific Division, Warriors Fall to the Spurs

The Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers (54-22) defeated the Phoenix Suns (44-31), 112-108, on Wednesday. With the win, the Clippers have now won four straight games and clinched the division title thanks to a Warriors’ loss. This is the only the second division title for the franchise.

But the win didn’t come easily as the Suns entered the fourth quarter with a 17-point lead, 91-78. The Clippers said not so fast and early in the final quarter, scored 11 straight times with five coming from Willie Green. This cut their deficit to 92-85 and by 5:57, it was a 97-94 Phoenix advantage thanks to a 3-pointer by Jared Dudley, a former Suns player.

With under two minutes to play, Chris Paul hit a 3-pointer to give the Clippers a 108-106 advantage, which they held onto for the win.

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Paul ended the night with 20 points and nine assists while Blake Griffin, playing with a naggy back, and Darren Collison (five assists and three rebounds) each scored 23 points.

As for winning the division, Paul was pretty “meh” about it, saying via the Associated Press, “It’s nice but it doesn’t really mean much. We won the division title last year and lost in the first round. Last year we would have gone into the game knowing we had a chance to win the division. Now we don’t care, it’s all about the bigger picture.”

For the Suns, Marcus Morris led in scoring with 16 points, followed by 15 points apiece by Goran Dragic (2 of 11 from the field and in 3-pointers, 0-5) and Gerald Green.

From the loss, Phoenix missed the opportunity to grab the Western Conference’s No. 7 spot and now sit in a three-way tie with the Memphis Grizzlies and the Dallas Mavericks for the last two spots in the West’s playoff hunt.

On Friday, the Suns will play the Portland Trail Blazers (49-27). Phoenix sits at 5/6 odds for yes/no to even make it to the playoffs with 100/1 odds to win the 2014 NBA Championship.

The Clippers will look ahead to their Thursday game against the Mavericks (44-31). Los Angeles may welcome back J.J. Redick, who has been out for 25 games thanks to a bulging disk in his back. Clippers coach Doc Rivers gave the player a “75 percent” chance to return to play, reported ESPN.

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Mavericks know the clock is ticking on their postseason hopes. On Tuesday, they lost at the buzzer against Golden State, 122-120. After this game against the Clippers, things should get a little easier as they’ll play the Los Angeles Lakers, the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz.

In the Clippers vs. Mavericks three meetings this season, Los Angeles has won them all and with a sweep, it would represent the first time since the 1993-1994 season to do so. Back on their Jan. 15 game, which resulted in a 129-127 win, Paul was absent and the team had to overcome a 17-point deficit in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the game.

JJ Redick

JJ Redick

For that win, Reddick scored 33 points-a career high. And now you know why it makes even more sense why he’d return for this game.

The Clippers have their eyes on larger prize than a win on Thursday night but Vegas hasn’t picked a winner yet. However, looking ahead, Los Angeles sits at 8/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.

Dallas has a tougher road. As for the making the playoffs, Vegas says yes (1/2) to no (3/2) and 100/1 to win the 2014 NBA Championship.

In other Pacific Division news, Golden State lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 111-90, on Thursday. With the win, the Spurs have now won 19 straight games.

The Warriors were playing without Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and David Lee but reserves Marreese Speights stepped up (22 points), followed by Jordan Crawford with 16 points.

Golden State will return to play on Friday with a game against the Sacramento Kings (27-48) and have 20/1 odds to win this year’s championship.


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