Clippers beat Lakers to clinch division title
LOS ANGELES - Agence France-Presse
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) smiles after hitting a three-point shot against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California April 7, 2013. Clippers won the game 109-95 to clinch the Pacific Division title. REUTERS/Alex GallardoThe Los Angeles Clippers clinched their first division title in their 42-year history with a 109-95 rout of rival Los Angeles Lakers behind a 24 point, 12 assist effort from Chris Paul on April 7.
Blake Griffin finished with 24 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the Clippers who ended the Lakers’ five-year run atop the Pacific Division standings.
“We did a tremendous job of starting the second half. This is my first division win, but we kind of had the mind set that this was what we’re supposed to do,” Griffin said.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Bobcats are the only teams in National Basketball Association history to not win a division championship.
Clippers complete historic sweep
The Clippers also swept the season series against the rival Lakers for the first time since 1974-75 when they were known as the Buffalo Braves.
Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 20 points for the Clippers at Staples Center arena.
However, it was again Griffin and Paul who ran the show for the Clippers.
“I thought Blake and Chris were in tune with everything, as far as locking in on timeouts and demanding things from their teammates,” coach Vinny Del Negro said. “You’re a different team when your top players do that.”
Kobe Bryant had 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Lakers, who are in a fight with the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers are on 40-37 and following the Jazz, which have a 41-37 winning record. However, the Jazz have the upper hand in tiebreaker if both teams end on identical winning records.
Lakers battling Jazz for playoff spot
The Lakers have five games left, four of them at the Staples Center.
“Give them credit, they hit big shots, they played well. They’re very athletic, they’re long and they’re good. They were quicker to the ball than we were,” Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said.
Dwight Howard finished with 25 points as the Lakers had their modest three-game winning streak halted.
Also on April 7, Mo Williams scored 25 points and Al Jefferson collected 19 and 12 rebounds as Utah earned a 97-90 victory over host the Golden State Warriors.
The win helped Utah pull a half-game in front of the Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Warriors could have clinched their playoff spot with a win over the Jazz but instead had their lead over the Houston Rockets for the sixth spot trimmed to one game.
The Lakers entertain the New Orleans Hornets and the Jazz visit the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight.
The Clippers host the Minnesota Timbervolwes tomorrow.