Clippers beat Nuggets 117-105 for record 57th win
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blake Griffin won’t be playing in Portland, regardless of whether his 16th technical of the season is rescinded.
Griffin will stay home to rest, along with J.J. Redick, while the rest of the Los Angeles Clippers close out the regular season against the Trail Blazers.
They recorded their franchise-record 57th victory with a 117-105 win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night, when Griffin scored 24 points.
“I’m very happy that we’re doing this stuff, but it’s not what we want,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Chris Paul had 21 points and 10 assists, and Redick added 18 points in the Clippers’ finale at home, where they went 34-7 for another franchise mark. DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
“It’s all good and well,” Paul said about the franchise records, “but it’s all about the postseason.”
The win kept the Clippers in the hunt for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They would need to win at Portland and Oklahoma City would need to lose to Detroit on Wednesday night for the Clippers to claim the second spot. Otherwise, they will remain the third seed.
Griffin’s 16th tech triggered a league-mandated one-game suspension. But he said he thinks the league might rescind it.
“I honestly do,” he said. “It was one of those ones that was kind of a continuation. If I make a play on the ball and I hit the ball first, and he gives me a tech for that, I’m not sure if that’s going to stand up.”
Griffin was assessed the tech with 3:23 left in the second quarter. He swung his right arm around to try to get the ball from Timofey Mozgov and hit him in the head. Griffin pleaded his case with the referees to no avail.
Teammate Jared Dudley saw the play and was confident the call would be rescinded.
“He did hit ball, but he did follow through and hit his face,” Dudley said. “If it wasn’t an offensive foul, the ref said that he wouldn’t have called the technical; it would have been more of a flagrant.”
Kenneth Faried led the Nuggets with 21 points and Aaron Brooks added 19. Mozgov had 18 points and 11 rebounds as Denver’s three-game winning streak ended.
“Every time, it’s tough to play against the big guys like them,” Mozgov said about Griffin and Jordan. “They work under the basket so hard.”
The Clippers scored the game’s first 13 points and never looked back. Paul hit two 3-pointers and Matt Barnes added another before the Nuggets called timeout to regroup. Redick scored 10 unanswered points by himself, including two 3-pointers that extended the Clippers’ lead to 18 points. Griffin had three one-handed highlight dunks in the first.
“We were rattled at the beginning of the game,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “We couldn’t settle down and they jumped out to that big lead, and it was just too much for us.”
Mozgov helped the Nuggets close within single-digits after trailing by 23 with a three-point play that left them down 88-80 to end the third.
Denver twice got within five in the fourth, when all of the Clippers’ starters except Barnes and Jordan rested. But Los Angeles pulled away down the stretch for the easy win.
“I wanted them to figure it out,” Rivers said of the reserves. “That’s a confidence booster for them to close it out.”
NOTES: Redick won’t play the regular-season finale Wednesday at Portland to avoid a back-to-back situation. ... Clippers F Danny Granger could practice Thursday or Friday. He missed his eighth straight game because of a strained left hamstring. ... Denver finished 14-27 on the road and 7-19 against the West away from home. ... The Nuggets host playoff-bound Golden State on Wednesday in their final game of the season.