Clippers rout Rockets 125-96, tied with Utah for 4th seed
By BETH HARRIS
LOS ANGELES (AP) It's all down to one game for the Los Angeles Clippers to earn home-court advantage in the playoffs.
They routed the Houston Rockets 125-96 on Monday night to remain tied with Utah in the race for the No. 4 playoff seed. Both teams are 50-31 with one game remaining before they meet in the playoffs with only home court to be decided.
"Our destiny is in our hands," said DeAndre Jordan, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Clippers host Sacramento on Wednesday, while the Jazz host San Antonio.
"It's about us," Blake Griffin said. "This next game will be, too."
Chris Paul scored 19 points and Griffin added 18 in the Clippers' sixth straight victory. Since they didn't clinch home court, coach Doc Rivers will play his usual starters against the Kings.
"I think the 81st game (of the season) stopped Harden," Rivers said.
Neither team led by more than eight points in the first half before the Clippers broke the game open in the third.
They outscored the Rockets 36-12 to take a 97-69 lead.
"They had to win," Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They came out in the second half with a little bit more determination than we had."
Griffin's two free throws launched a 24-3 run, including 13 in a row highlighted by Jordan's dunk off Paul's alley-oop pass and J.J. Redick's steal and 3-pointer. Griffin scored eight in the third, while Paul and Redick added seven apiece as the Clippers shot 52 percent.
Harden picked up his fifth foul and his teammates hoisted two air balls while being limited to three free throws during the Clippers' dominating spurt. Houston was held to 34 percent shooting in the third.
"We try to get through this as best as possible," Harden said. "Especially when you have four or five guys out that are in the rotation."
Harden got his fourth foul with 2.8 seconds left in the first half, not long after Griffin and Jordan each received their third. Jamal Crawford scored the final five points to put the Clippers ahead 61-57 at the break. Crawford finished with 19 points off the bench.
Rockets: They fell to 13-2 in the second game of back-to-backs, having won at Sacramento on Sunday. They were 8-12 last season in such contests. ... F Ryan Anderson scored 12 points in the first half and then sat in the second, having recently returned from a right ankle sprain. ... With Harden at the line in the second quarter, super fan Clipper Darrell yelled, "Hey, James." Harden put his finger to his lips in a shushing gesture and then missed both foul shots. ... Reserve centers Clint Capela and Nene both sat out.
Clippers: Rivers earned his 216th victory to surpass Mike Dunleavy for most regular-season wins in franchise history. ... The Clippers are 9-6 against the Rockets since Rivers took over in 2013-14. ... They went 1-2 to avoid a season sweep by the Rockets. ... North Carolina coach Roy Williams attended.
Paul Pierce scored all of his 10 points in the game's final five minutes. He moved into 15th on the NBA career scoring list with 26,397 points. The 39-year-old veteran hit a pair of 3-pointers, delighting the starters on the bench who leaped to their feet and waved towels.
"I know how much Paul has given to this game," said Paul, who told Rivers how many points his teammate needed to overtake former Celtic John Havlicek. "He went in there and knocked it right out."
Rockets: Host Minnesota in regular-season finale, a team the Rockets have beaten 13 out of 15 games.
Clippers: Host Sacramento in regular-season finale, having won two of three from the Kings.
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Updated April 11, 2017