LOS ANGELES — Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes his club is in a good place as it heads to its franchise record sixth consecutive postseason. Riding a seven-game winning streak, the fourth-seeded Clippers tip off the playoffs at home on Saturday against the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz.
“I like the way we closed the (regular) season out, We had to as well,” said Rivers after the Clippers rolled past the Sacramento Kings 115-95 at Staples Center on Wednesday to clinch homecourt advantage. “We’ve been good for the last 14 games … and I said that that long ago and I felt that. We were winning games, but we weren’t blowing teams out, and so it didn’t look like we were playing well. But I kept saying ‘Guys,’ I’m telling you, we’re playing well.’ And you could see it and I think our guys could see it.”
The Clippers have dominated the Jazz in recent play, capturing three of the four contests this season and 18 of the past 20 games. But Rivers said that matters little when the two teams clash in the playoffs.
“Honestly, as I know and you know, it still starts all over, whether you’re playing well or not,” Rivers said. “Saturday, it doesn’t matter if Utah’s been playing great or not or (if we’ve) been playing great or not. It starts all over and you have to be ready.”
Against the Kings, all five Clippers’ starters scored in double figures. DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick led the way with 18 points apiece. Jordan also had 17 rebounds and four blocks.
Chris Paul had 17 points and nine assists, Blake Griffin contributed 15 points, nine boards and eight assists and Luc Mbah a Moute added 14 points.
The Clippers used a second-half flurry to pull away. They increased their 53-47 halftime edge into a double-digit lead in the third quarter. The Clippers outscored the Kings 34-26 in the third for an 87-73 advantage heading into the fourth.
The Clippers kept the pressure on in the final quarter. Unlike their March 26 loss, when the Kings rallied from an 18-point deficit in the final five minutes for a stunning 98-97 win over the Clippers, Los Angeles never allowed the lead to dip below double figures.
For the seventh straight game, the Clippers topped 50 percent shooting from the floor. They finished at 51.8 percent to 49.4 percent for the Kings. Jordan connected on 8 of 10 shots.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
“To be able to end it here in front of family and friends, being back home, it’s special. Just looking up and seeing my mom in the stands, she didn’t make a lot of trips to Boston, and seeing my brothers in the stands, it meant a lot to me. It’s been a long ride, it’s been a great ride.” — Paul Pierce, who is retiring at season’s end, regarding the late-game chants by fans
Speaking of the Truth…
The Clippers delivered a video tribute to Pierce late in the game. Fans gave Pierce a standing ovation. Shortly after, they began chanting “We want Paul,” and Rivers obliged them by putting in the 18-year veteran with 2:23 remaining.
Pierce missed two 3-point attempts before Rivers replaced him to receive another standing ‘O’ with 40.3 seconds remaining.
On The Record
Redick broke his own franchise record for 3-pointers by hitting his 201st at 5:16 of the third quarter. That eclipsed the 200 3-pointers Redick made last season.
Jamal Crawford, who finished with 13 points against the Kings, converted one trey during the game to take sole possession of fifth place on the all-time NBA list for career 3-pointers made. Crawford entered the game tied for fifth with Vince Carter and Kyle Korver.
Redick will be playing in his 11th consecutive postseason in as many seasons. Tony Parker (16 straight ) is the only active player with more consecutive appearances.
The Clippers outscored the Kings 19-3 in the first half and finished with a 26-5 edge overall in fastbreak points. The Clippers also earned advantages in points in the paint (48-34) and second-chance points (19-10). The Clippers outrebounded the Kings 43-37.
Rebounding and pace will dictate the winner of the series between the Clippers and Jazz, Rivers believes. “We just have to be ready for whatever is presented,” Rivers said. “We won’t be successful if we’re a team that can win just one way, I know that. If it’s up and down, we’re good with that. If it’s not, I think the series will be uneven that way. I just think we have to be ready for the ups and downs of a different pace.”