(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers have won the Pacific Division the
last five years. That impressive run will come to an end this season.
And guess who's next in line to capture the division title? That's right, the
Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers need a win this afternoon against the rival Lakers to lock up
their first division crown in team history. The Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies
and Charlotte Bobcats are the only teams in NBA lore not to win a division
A three-game losing streak for the Clippers was put to rest with Wednesday's
126-101 beatdown of the Phoenix Suns as DeAndre Jordan led the charge with 20
points and 12 rebounds.
"My teammates put me in position for easy baskets," Jordan said.
Chris Paul delivered 15 points, 12 assists and four steals, while Eric Bledsoe
and Willie Green finished with 17 and 15 points, respectively, for Los
Angeles, which posted 50 wins in a season for the first time. The 1974-75
Buffalo Braves went 49-33.
The Clippers outscored the Suns 72-32 in the paint and registered 34 points
off of 21 Phoenix turnovers. The Clips, who have 35 wins this season by 10 or
more points, are 1-1 on a four-game homestand and 29-9 as the host. They will
wrap up the residency Wednesday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. A loss by
Golden State to Utah Sunday would also clinch the Pacific for the Clippers.
In injury news for the Clippers, Jordan is questionable Sunday with a sore hip
and Blake Griffin, who had just nine points versus the Suns, is questionable
as well due to a sore left calf.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are fighting for a playoff spot that superstar Kobe
Bryant said will come to fruition. The Lakers are just one-half game ahead of
the Utah Jazz for the eighth spot in the West and sit 2 1/2 games in back of
the Houston Rockets with six to play.
In an 86-84 triumph versus the Grizzlies on Friday, Bryant scored 24 points
and dished out nine assists. Dwight Howard had nine points and 10 rebounds for
the Lakers, who made it interesting at the end before holding on. Grizzlies
guard Mike Conley drove the lane in the waning seconds and was defended by
Howard. No foul was called and Conley's shot was off the mark at the horn.
"I thought he did a great job. He tried to avoid contact and stayed big enough
to bother the shot," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Howard's defense. "I
thought he defended it perfectly."
Bryant talked about the remainder of the games afterward.
"We have big games coming up against tough opponents. I think at this point in
the season it should be very easy for us to maintain our focus," Bryant said.
The Lakers have won three in a row and four of five games, and still have
important games against the Clippers, Warriors, Spurs and Rockets on the
slate. The Lakers are 15-24 away from home and may not have guard Steve Nash
on Sunday because of a series on injuries to his hip, ankle and back.
The Clippers have won the first three matchups with the Lakers this season and
haven't swept a season series against their city rivals since 1974-75 (4-0),
when the team resided in Buffalo. The Lakers have lost five of their last
seven at the Clippers.
The Sports Network