Austin Rivers, right, of the Clippers tries to get a shot up over Denver’s Jusuf Nurkic during Sunday’s game at Staples Center/AP photo by Mark J. Terrill
– The top news out of this game is what took place before it started. That’s when the Clippers declared Blake Griffin healthy and ready to play, meaning he started his four-game suspension and now just has to sit out three more before he can return next Sunday when the Clippers host the Washington Wizards at 12:30 p.m. at Staples Center.
– DeAndre Jordan had another ferocious showing. He scored a team-high 16 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked six shots in 29 minutes. “Yeah, he’s been terrific,” coach Doc Rivers said post-game. Denver coach Mike Malone called Jordan “one of the better rim protectors in the NBA.” Jordan did have five turnovers, which is rare.
– Jeff Green had a nice game off the bench, scoring 13 points on 6 of 13 shooting. He also had six rebounds, two steals, a block and zero turnovers in 29 1/2 minutes.
– Then there was Wes Johnson. He has struggled with his shot, as we have recently noted. In a candid interview with this newspaper Saturday before practice, Johnson said it was something he wanted to shoot his way out of, and this was a good start. Johnson scored 13 points off the bench and made 5 of 6 from the field, 3 of 4 from 3-point range.
– Not that the Clippers (45-27) celebrated, but they did clinch a playoff berth with this win. Afterward, coach Rivers said no one on the team even realized it, and he liked that. Obviously, clinching a playoff berth for the fifth consecutive season is a good thing. But it will only remain as such if the Clippers can find a way to get out of the Western Conference semifinals for the first time in franchise history. Right now, their first-round matchup is shaping up to be against the Memphis Grizzlies. The second round – the conference semifinals – would be against the defending-champion Golden State Warriors.