Clip­pers re­group to wrap up an­other playo≠ berth

CLIP­PERS 108, JAZZ 95

The Washington Post Sunday - - NCAA TOURNAMENT - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Los An­ge­les Clip­pers lost a 16-point lead in the third quar­ter and their tem­pers went with it.

Ja­mal Craw­ford and Chris Paul were whis­tled for tech­ni­cal fouls and sud­denly, Utah had made a game of it.

“My emo­tions got the best of me for a sec­ond,” Craw­ford said. “I had to get it off my chest and set­tle down go­ing into the fourth quar­ter.”

Craw­ford re­sponded with 17 of his 28 points in the fi­nal pe­riod, and the Clip­pers beat the Jazz, 108-95, on Satur­day in Los An­ge­les to clinch a play­off berth for the sixth straight year.

“We al­ways say he’s got his danc­ing shoes on when he gets mov­ing like that,” Paul said of Craw­ford’s ef­fort off the bench.

Added Craw­ford: “It’s the way I’m han­dling the ball. If I’m kind of skip­ping, you can tell I’m locked in.”

The Clip­pers, who have won 18 of their last 20 meet­ings with the Jazz and won the sea­son se­ries 3-1, still trail Utah by a half-game in the race for the No. 4 seed in the West.

Los An­ge­les turned things around in the fourth, scor­ing the first eight points for an 80-70 lead. Craw­ford had six in a row to push the Clip­pers’ lead to 103-84. He was 9 of 9 at the free throw line for the game.

“He’s just a great shot-maker, es­pe­cially with a hand in his face,” Utah Coach Quin Sny­der said.

Blake Grif­fin added 15 points and DeAn­dre Jor­dan had 15 re­bounds for the Clip­pers.

Rudy Gobert had 26 points and 14 re­bounds for the Jazz, and re­serve Joe John­son added 17 points. Utah has lost four of five.

Utah ral­lied in the third quar­ter, putting to­gether a 20-6 spurt to trim Los An­ge­les’ lead to 72-70 head­ing into the fi­nal pe­riod. Gobert had nine points and John­son scored seven dur­ing the run that in­cluded 10 straight points for the Jazz over one stretch.

The Clip­pers grabbed con­trol early on, shoot­ing 52 per­cent in the first quar­ter while build­ing a 15-point lead.

“Right from the be­gin­ning they jumped us, and we weren’t ready,” Gobert said. “That’s what hap­pened the last few games and we came out the same way.”

The Jazz got within seven to start the sec­ond be­fore the Clip­pers re­stored their 15-point edge en route to a 49-41 half­time lead.

Utah’s top two scor­ers, Gor­don Hay­ward and Ge­orge Hill, strug­gled. Hay­ward, who av­er­ages 22 points, had 13 points on 5-of-12 shoot­ing. Hill, who av­er­ages 17.1 points, had nine points while shoot­ing 4 of 11.

Hay­ward asked to be taken out of the game in the fourth quar­ter, when he sat on the bench with an ice pack on his knee.

Sny­der said he had an X-ray af­ter­ward.

“I think he just has a con­tu­sion, a bruised mus­cle,” Sny­der said.

SPURS 106, KNICKS 98: Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points, LaMar­cus Aldridge added 19 points and 10 re­bounds and San An­to­nio turned back vis­it­ing New York for its fourth straight vic­tory.

The Spurs (56-16) are two games be­hind the War­riors (58-14) for the league’s best record.

Der­rick Rose and Willy Her­nan­gomez each scored 24 points and Her­nan­gomez added 13 re­bounds for the Knicks, who were with­out Carmelo An­thony for the sec­ond straight game be­cause of a sore left knee.

RAP­TORS 94, MAV­ER­ICKS 86: In Dal­las, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka scored 18 points apiece to help Toronto win its fifth game in a row.

The Rap­tors scored the game’s first seven points and never trailed as Dal­las fell four games be­hind Den­ver for the fi­nal play­off spot in the West.

Har­ri­son Barnes scored 23 points for the Mav­er­icks.

Knicks’ Noah is sus­pended

Joakim Noah of the New York Knicks was sus­pended 20 games with­out pay for vi­o­lat­ing the league’s anti-drug pol­icy.

He tested pos­i­tive for a sub­stance found in some over-the­counter sup­ple­ments, the league said Satur­day.

The 6-foot-11 Noah, 32, has not played since Feb. 4 and likely was to miss the Knicks’ fi­nal 10 games this sea­son be­cause of a left knee in­jury. The NBA said Noah’s sus­pen­sion will be­gin with the first reg­u­lar sea­son or play­off game for which he is “el­i­gi­ble and phys­i­cally able to play.”

At min­i­mum, that means the sus­pen­sion will carry over into at least the first 10 games of next sea­son. Noah is in the first year of a four-year, $72-mil­lion con­tract.

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