Five things to take from Clippers’ come-from-behind victory at Phoenix

- First and foremost, the Clippers clinched their second consecutive Pacific Division title with this 112-108 victory. Sure, they want much more, but this is still very cool. At 54-22, they are 34 games over .500 and have won 17 of their past 19 games and went 4-1 on this just-concluded road trip ahead of Thursday’s game against Dallas at Staples Center.

- It’s good to see Jared Dudley contributing the way he is right now because strong benches are needed for long playoff runs. He scored 16 points while spelling an ailing Blake Griffin on Monday in a win at Minnesota. With Griffin back, Dudley played 24 minutes off the bench Wednesday and scored 12 points and made all six of his free throws, including the two that basically sealed the Suns’ fate. These back-to-back double-digit games are Dudley’s first since he scored 10 points Jan. 15 against Dallas.

- Chris Paul is Mr. Clutch. His 30-plus foot 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire with 1:48 to play put the Clippers up 108-106, a lead they did not relinquish. Paul had 20 points and nine assists. He did not have a good shooting night – going 6-for-17 from the field – but he came through at the most important time. Like superstars do. Oh, he was 4-for-7 from 3-point range. Not too shabby at all.

- As for Griffin, you could tell at times that his back was bothering him. Kudos to him for working through it. Sometimes that’s the best thing for a bad back. He played 34 minutes and after a slow start shooting, he ended up going 7 of 15 from the field and he made 9 of 10 free throws for 23 points. He had six rebounds – low for him – and three assists.

- Finally, and most importantly, the Clippers once again showed they are a team that has that proverbial “Ninth-inning magic.” They were down by 17 points in the third quarter after having trailed by just two points (62-60) at halftime. They were on the road, playing against a Phoenix team fighting for its playoff life. And they come back and took the Suns’ heart right away from them. Victories like these are the kind of which championships are made.

 

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Blake Griffin has nine points in first half, after which Clippers trail Suns 62-60

It was a mixed bag for Blake Griffin in the first half Wednesday night at Phoenix. He scored nine points, but made just 1 of 5 from the field; he was 7 of 8 from the free-throw line in 16 minutes. He also had four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

The Clippers trailed 62-60 at the break.

Griffin missed Monday’s game at Minnesota after playing just six minutes in Saturday’s game at Houston because of back spasms. He had been a game-time decision Wednesday.

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The question as to whether Blake Griffin would play at Phoenix has been answered

The question as to whether Blake Griffin would play Wednesday night at Phoenix has been answered. Griffin started and played nine minutes in the first quarter, during which he scored five points – all on free throws – with one rebound and one steal. He missed both of his field goal attempts. Griffin missed Monday’s game at Minnesota with back spasms that limited him to six minutes Saturday at Houston.

The Clippers led 30-25 after one quarter, thanks to Chris Paul, who made a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left and a subsequent free throw for a four-point play. Oh, and DeAndre Jordan had seven rebounds in the quarter. That’s a pace for 28.

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Report: Blake Griffin a game-time decision at Phoenix, Jamal Crawford out again

Blake Griffin will be a game-time decision when the Clippers play at Phoenix on Wednesday night in the final game of a five-game road trip, ESPN.com has reported.

Griffin came out early in this past Saturday’s game at Houston with back spasms. He then missed Monday’s game at Minnesota. It was the first game Griffin has missed this season.

Coach Doc Rivers told ESPN.com at Wednesday’s shoot-around that Griffin “may play tonight. I’m not sure.”

Also, sixth man Jamal Crawford is expected to miss his second consecutive game with a sore left Achilles, the ESPN.com report said. He recently missed eight of nine games with a left calf injury.

 

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Five things to look for in Clippers’ game Wednesday at Phoenix

- Look for the Goran Dragic-led Suns to give an inspiring effort. As of right now they are tied with Memphis for the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings. Ninth-place Dallas is only a half-game behind those two. Phoenix and Memphis are both 44-30 and have eight games left each. Dallas is 44-31 with seven games remaining.

- Look for Chris Paul to continue his terrific play. The Clippers are 3-1 on this road trip. In the game they lost – March 26 at New Orleans – Paul was 0 of 12 from the field and scored just two points. In successive victories over Dallas, Houston and Minnesota, he has scored 31, 30 and 22 points with 30 assists.

- Expect another heavy rebounding night from DeAndre Jordan, who seems to be getting stronger and even more dynamic as the regular season nears an end. Not only is he leading the NBA in rebounding with a 13.9 average, check this out: he has 67 rebounds on the road trip. That’s a 16.7 average. He had 24 Monday at Minnesota.

- If Blake Griffin is out again because of his back, expect Jared Dudley to again be a capable replacement. Keep in mind that even though he did not play Monday, Griffin did dress, meaning he wasn’t that far from being able to go. If Jamal Crawford (calf) also misses his second consecutive game, that could be a lot to deal with against a team fighting for it’s playoff life.

- If Griffin and Crawford play and are at least close to being reasonably healthy, the Clippers win this game going away because they are rolling right now.  Even without those two they could win because along with Paul and Jordan, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison have been heavy contributors.

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Some cool numbers to ponder ahead of Clippers’ game Wednesday at Phoenix

- Prior to Monday’s victory at Minnesota, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin were first and fourth in the league in dunks. Jordan had 218, Griffin 158 (Griffin did not play against the T’Wolves because of back spasms).

- The Clippers have sold out 130 consecutive home games, sixth best in the league. The Mavericks lead the way with 565 and the Miami Heat are second with 182. These numbers include regular-season and playoff games. The Clippers return home Thursday to take on the Mavericks.

- And this, from ESPN.com: At 53-22, the Clippers are more than 30 games over .500 for the first time in the 44-year history of the franchise.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 114-104 victory Monday night at Minnesota

- It was smart for the Clippers (53-22) to hold Blake Griffin out of this game. He is arguably the team’s best player – though fans of Chris Paul may debate that – and there was no use risking not having a healthy Griffin for the post-season, which is just around the corner.

- Big-time kudos to Jared Dudley, who started in place of Griffin and came through with 16 points, four rebounds and three assists. Dudley shot 6 of 10 from the field, 2 of 3 from 3-point range.

- Jamal Crawford, who had recently missed eight out of nine games, was back on the bench with what was described as a calf injury in an Associated Press story on the game. A strained left calf was why Crawford missed those aforementioned games before playing in five consecutive games ahead of Monday.

- DeAndre Jordan had a career-high 24 rebounds. Dude is just a beast. He also had 11 points and four blocks. However, showing he’s not perfect, Jordan also had five of the team’s 18 turnovers.

- Darren Collison had a terrific night shooting the ball. He was 9 of 17 from the field – 2 of 3 from 3-point range – and he made all eight of his free throws for a game-high 28 points. Picking up the offense like that when the team’s leading scorer (Griffin) is out is nothing but positive. Collison did have six turnovers to go with seven assists, but he also played 43 minutes. The points, minutes and turnovers were season-highs.

Next up, Wednesday at Phoenix.

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Blake Griffin will be held out of Monday night’s game at Minnesota

The Clippers have announced they are holding Blake Griffin out of Monday night’s game at Minnesota.

Griffin suffered back spasms during the first quarter of Saturday’s victory at Houston. He had been listed as day-to-day and as much as a 50-50 proposition to play against the Timberwolves.

It’s the first game Griffin will have missed all season.

 

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Blake Griffin listed as 50-50 for Monday night’s game at Minnesota

Blake Griffin has been listed as a 50-50 possibility – a game-time decision – to play in Monday night’s game at Minnesota, according to a story on ESPN.com.

Griffin left Saturday’s game at Houston in the first quarter with back spasms and did not return.

“It has improved since Saturday, that’s for sure,” Griffin told ESPN.com. “I still wouldn’t say 100 percent. … I’ve been dealing with it off and on. Most of the time it’s manageable, but I felt like Saturday wasn’t really manageable. I got bumped, but it wasn’t a hard bump or anything. It was a bump. I feel like if it hadn’t happened there it would have happened the next time I was in the lane. I don’t really think it was the force.”

Griffin has not missed a game this season. He’s averaging 24 points and 9.6 rebounds.

 

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Blake Griffin nearing a milestone and heading toward some history

If Blake Griffin plays in Monday’s game at Minnesota, he will become the No. 7 all-time scorer in franchise history. He has 6,431 points and Ken Norman, who is seventh, has 6,432.

It has taken Griffin not quite four full seasons to get to this point; it took Norman six.

The all-time leading scorer in franchise history is Randy Smith with 12,735. Second is Bob McAdoo with 9,434.

Griffin is averaging 24 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He could become the first player since the 1975-76 season to average 24 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in one of his first four years in the NBA. The last person to do that was McAdoo. Others who have done it are Oscar Robertson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Elgin Baylor.

Griffin went down with back spasms early in Saturday’s victory at Houston. He is questionable for the game at Minnesota.

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