Check out the latest standings and potential first-round playoff matchups

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin leads the Clippers in scoring with a 22.0 average/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers have two games left in the regular season, Monday at home against Denver and Tuesday at Phoenix.

After Sunday’s slate of games, here’s a look at where the Clippers are in the Western Conference standings.

Also, these are the current matchups for the first round if the playoffs began today.

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Blake Griffin trying to figure out what it all means in Western Conference standings

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

With their 94-86 victory Saturday over the Memphis Grizzlies, the Clippers are now 54-26 – as are the Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs. They are tied for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings.

But with not one first-round playoff matchup yet set in the West with the eight teams having either two or three games left in the regular season, Blake Griffin is not sure what it all means.

“To be in the position we are in is great,” said Griffin, who scored 18 points Saturday. “I don’t even have an idea of what it all breaks down to as far as who we are going to play, who we might play, what all the scenarios are. … I was just talking about it with somebody and we just came to the conclusion that we have no idea.”

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Blake Griffin on Clippers: ‘We’re playing some of our best basketball’

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers (53-26) have won 11 of their past 12 games heading into their game Saturday night with the Memphis Grizzlies (54-25). Blake Griffin likes what he’s seeing, but is keeping things in perspective.

“We’re playing some of our best basketball,” he said. “We haven’t really played the
same caliber of teams down the stretch, but I think we’re playing good basketball. I think everybody’s locked in. It’s kind of just like a business atmosphere.”

Of the 11 victories, only four have come against teams currently in position to make the playoffs.

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CP3: Blake Griffin’s improved mid-range jump-shot paying dividends for Clippers

 

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Blake Griffin has made a concerted effort to improve his mid-range jump-shot, and he has done that as this season he is shooting a career-high 40.7 percent from 16 feet and beyond; his previous best was 38.2 percent in 2011-12.

Teammate Chris Paul suggests Griffin improving his game in that way has been highly beneficial.

“It makes us very hard to guard,” Paul said. “A lot of teams would try keep us on one side of the court, but you have to make a choice. If two (players) are going to guard me, then you are leaving Blake open.

“When Blake is shooting and passing well, it makes us that much more dangerous.”

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Doc Rivers jokes patch worn by Blake Griffin not for Griffin ‘to stop smoking’

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Clippers’ forward Blake Griffin went crashing into an advertising table outside the north end-line during the first quarter of Tuesday’s 105-100 victory over the Lakers. He was hustling for a loose ball, trying to save it from going out of bounds.

Though fans appreciated his effort, he was unsuccessful and the Lakers took possession. It was a scary moment that resulted in Griffin wearing a patch on his right shoulder that became bloody. Never one to pass on an opportunity to make a joke out of something, coach Doc Rivers did just that when asked about the patch.

“I’m sure it’s not to get him to stop smoking,” he said, drawing laughs from reporters.

Griffin, by the way, scored 27 points in the game. He also grabbed seven rebounds and doled out six assists.

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Five things to take from the Clippers’ 105-100 victory over the Lakers

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

- It figured it would be more difficult to dispatch the lowly Lakers in this one if for no other reason than professional pride. The Lakers were embarrassed Sunday, getting down by 43 points before losing by 28 (106-78) and there was probably no way that was going to happen again just two days later with that butt-kicking fresh in the minds of not only the Lakers, but the Clippers. It’s called human nature.

- Jamal Crawford’s return after missing the previous 17 games with a calf injury went about as expected. A rhythm shooter, Crawford was bound to be rusty, and he was. After making his first shot, he made only one more to finish 2 of 7 from the field with four points. Afterward, he said the 19 minutes felt more like 35 to his legs. Crawford should be back to being Crawford in another game or two.

- J.J. Redick once again improved upon the best season of his career by scoring 27 points. He made 9 of 14 from the field, 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Redick has leapfrogged Crawford as the team’s third-leading scorer at 16.4 points per game; Crawford is now at 16.2. Redick averaged 20.6 points in March and he’s at 22.3 in four games this month. He’s shooting 47.8 percent from the field, 43.9 from beyond the arc; both numbers are career bests. The 30-year-old is in his ninth season.

- Blake Griffin had a terrific game with 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, six assists and a blocked shot. As important as any of that, Griffin hit a big jump-shot with 28.3 seconds to play that went a long way in staving off the hard-playing Lakers. That gave the Clippers a 100-94 lead.

- One of the best things about this game – certainly for the fans – is that Lakers coach Byron Scott did not resort to that ridiculous hack-a-DJ ploy, purposely fouling the poor free-throw shooting DeAndre Jordan. Jordan took just two shots from the free-throw line, missing both. He scored only eight points. But as he often does when he doesn’t score much, he pulled down a whopping 17 rebounds and blocked three shots.

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J.J. Redick praises his team for winning franchise-record 25 games on the road

Blake Griffin goes up for a dunk in Sunday’s victory over the Lakers/Photo by Mark Terrill, Associated Press

 

Sunday’s 106-78 rout of the woeful Lakers was a road game for the Clippers (52-26), and it was their franchise-record 25th road victory of the season. Guard J.J. Redick afterward had no problem praising his team about that.

“You have to have mental toughness,” he said. “A lot of times in the course of a game, teams can make a big run, you might make a big run, and a team might make a run
back, so there’s a lot of ebb and flow to that.

“When you’re playing on the road, if you can kind of weather the runs and weather the crowd, that shows mental toughness. The other night in Portland was a big step for us.”

The Clippers came from 19 points down in the second quarter to win 126-122 this past Wednesday at Portland.

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Blake Griffin just wants to win, so his 40-point night Tuesday means little to him

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Blake Griffin on Tuesday night had easily his best game since he returned from an elbow injury. He scored 40 points on 16 of 25 shooting. He also grabbed 12 rebounds, doled out five assists and blocked three shots in 42 1/2 minutes.

But the Clippers lost 110-106 to the rival Golden State Warriors at Staples Center, so to him, the numbers didn’t mean much.

“I don’t really count that (scoring performance) as anything dynamic,” he said when asked to assess his game. “When you walk away with a loss, it does not matter. It doesn’t really mean a lot. There were plenty of things I could have done to help us play better. The bottom line is that we need to be a better team. Championships are not won today, but we still need to improve as a team.”

Griffin’s season-high of 45 points came Dec. 8 in a 121-120 overtime victory over Phoenix.

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Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers not happy about all the cheering for the Warriors

Matt Barnes of the Clippers goes up for a shot in Tuesday’s 110-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors/Staff photo by John McCoy

 

The Golden State Warriors aren’t the only team that has had a strong fan base this season at Staples Center when playing the Clippers. The same could be said when the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat played them there.

But it seemed like all the cheering for the Warriors in their 110-106 victory over the Clippers on Tuesday at Staples Center really rubbed some the wrong way. Blake Griffin, for example, made no bones about how displeased he was during the post-game news conference.

He was asked if it felt like a playoff atmosphere.

“Not really, no,” he said. He was asked why.

“I don’t know, the homecourt advantage is just not there for us,” Griffin said. “So if that’s how it feels in the playoffs, it’s not looking good.”

Coach Doc Rivers also was queried as to whether the ambiance had a post-season feel.

“It did, in some ways,” Rivers said. “I liked our crowd tonight, for the most part. I didn’t like their crowd.”

Having covered Clippers-Warriors games at Oracle Arena in Oakland, believe this, there is almost no cheering for the Clippers.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 110-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin scored 40 points in Tuesday’s loss to Golden State/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

- The absence of sixth-man Jamal Crawford was very obvious in this loss. While the Warriors got a big spark off the bench from post Marreese Speights, who had 13 points, the spark Crawford typically brings was not there to ignite as he missed his 14th consecutive game with a calf injury. Golden State got 34 points from its bench, the Clippers just 12. Sure, the Warriors’ bench played more minutes. But still, in games against the elite teams, Crawford not being in there becomes much more damaging. The good news is Crawford could return after the Clippers come back from their two-game trip that will see them play games Wednesday night at Portland and Saturday night at Denver.

- DeAndre Jordan leads the league in field-goal percentage at 70.6, so shooting 1 of 5 in this one was certainly uncharacteristic. Interestingly, he seemed to have a couple of opportunities to throw down dunks but instead tried to lay the ball in the basket. That resulted in misses. Even fans were yelling at Jordan to “dunk the ball.”

- Blake Griffin had a monster game. With 40 points on 16 of 25 shooting, he appears all the way back from the staph infection that was surgically removed from his right elbow. His season-high of 45 points came Dec. 8 in a 121-120 overtime victory over Phoenix. Griffin also pulled down 12 rebounds Tuesday, doled out five assists and blocked three shots.

- Considering this game was played at Staples Center and not Oracle Arena, there were way too many Warriors fans present. Both coach Doc Rivers and Griffin complained about that afterward, which was understandable. This isn’t the first time that has happened, but it makes one wonder just how much of a homecourt advantage the Clippers are going to have during the playoffs when they are playing at what are supposed to be the friendly confines of Staples Center.

- Chris Paul scored 27 points and had nine assists. But he still had to try and contain Golden State’s Steph Curry, who started out by shooting 1 of 4 before getting hot and finishing 8 of 15 for 27 points of his own. Afterward, Paul said there were three instances where he was in Curry’s chest, yet Curry still made his shot. Tonight (Wednesday), Paul will have his hands full with another dynamic guard – Portland’s Damian Lillard. “It’s a point-guard-driven league,” Paul said.

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