Clippers regroup to wrap up another playo≠ berth
CLIPPERS 108, JAZZ 95
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.