Game #61
April 16, 2012 | 7:30 PM (PST)
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TEAM 1 2 3 4 FINAL
27 25 14 11 77
21 22 23 26 92
  • APRIL 18
    LOS ANGELES - With the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder in town, Staples Center had a buzz inside well before tipoff. It set the stage for a 92-77 win, one of the biggest of the season, and was cause for the crowd to roar multiple times. It was hard to figure out when the noise was at its peak.

    Was it when Nick Young rolled off eight-straight points in a little over a minute in the third quarter, erasing a Thunder lead that was as large as 11?

    A Clippers season-ticket holder received a birthday present he’ll likely remember for a long time.

    Chance Lavitch, a student from Chevoit Hills, Calif. celebrating his 21st birthday, banked in a half-court shot during a timeout midway through the fourth quarter Monday to win a new Jeep Cherokee sports utility vehicle. Lavitch, whose family has owned season tickets since 1987, was escorted onto the court and introduced to the crowd before heaving the ball from his chest.

    The ball arched high through the air, caromed off the backboard, and through the basket. Lavitch jumped in the air and hugged Traci B., the on-court host for the Clippers, as the Staples Center faithful roared. It was the first time this season a contestant has made the shot.

    Was it when Blake Griffin threw down back-to-back slams in the fourth quarter, stretching the Clipper lead to double-digits?

    Was it when a fan celebrating his 21st birthday collected a brand-new Jeep by hitting a half-court shot in the Clippers penultimate home game of the season?

    Or was it when they clinched the fifth playoff berth in Clipper history? That was certainly the moment that mattered the most to the Clippers themselves.

    "I've never been to the playoffs and a lot of guys on this team haven't either," DeAndre Jordan said. "We're excited. The fans and the franchise have been waiting for something like this to happen for a while."

    Officially, the playoff berth was sealed in the first half courtesy of Houston's loss to Denver. Then, the Clippers (38-23) went out and beat the Thunder (44-17) for good measure. It was their 12th win in 14 games and third in four tries this season against the Thunder, who fell into a tie with San Antonio for the West's top record.

    Difference Maker: Young was hot the second he stepped on the court. He made his first two shots in the first quarter but turned it on when the Clippers needed it most. His eight third-quarter points, all consecutive, helped the Clippers surge in front while the Thunder struggled to make its shots.

    Turning Point: Of all of the aforementioned plays that made Staples Center buzz, Griffin's pair of slams sent a message to the Thunder.

    The plays were near carbon copies, with Mo Williams and Griffin running a two-man game on the left side of the court. Williams patiently took a Griffin screen, danced around, then hit his power forward with bounce passes that Griffin finished with thunderous slams.

    "Mo just set me up," Griffin said. "We spaced the floor and everyone was hitting shots so they had to worry about everybody and couldn't just load up all game. Mo hit me with two great passes and that's what got me loose."

    Stat Line of the Night: Griffin had 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting with 11 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 blocks.

    More Stats: Chris Paul quietly racked up a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.

    Randy Foye had 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 3-pointers. His highlight was a one-handed fast-break slam on Serge Ibaka, the NBA's leading shot blocker.

    Mo Williams had 11 points off the bench.

    Kevin Durant had a game-high 24 points but had a rough shooting day, going 0-for-7 from three and shooting 7-for-18 on the game.

    Hot: Young, who had a team-high 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting and hit 3-of-4 3-pointers.

    Not: The Thunder in the second half. Oklahoma City shot just 9-of-31 after the break, 0-of-11 from three, and scored as many points in the second half as it did in the second quarter (25). The 25 points in the second half was a season low for a half for the Thunder, the league's second highest scoring team (103.1 points per game).


    On the overall effort:

    Del Negro: "I was pleased with the team effort tonight. It's going to be difficult to get all of these guys enough minutes to keep them satisfied. But if the ultimate thing is actually to win, you have to work your minutes."

    On making the playoffs:

    Young: "First time, as a rookie in Washington, I didn't really play I just watched. Now I'm going to get a chance to get out there so I'm excited."

    Griffin: "It's definitely a stepping stone to bigger things. We don't want to be complacent with just making the playoffs. That was one of our goals coming in. It is a positive, it is a plus and it's something that we're happy about but my no means is that all."

    Griffin tied a career high with his four blocks... The Thunder were the best free-throw shooting team in the league entering the game, hovering at 80.3%, but shot 18-of-29 on the night (62.1%). The Clippers remained in fourth place in the West. The No. 3 Lakers and No. 5 Grizzlies were both idle Monday. The Clippers are one game behind the Lakers and two ahead of the Grizzlies... Denver moved up to No. 6 with a win and Dallas dropped to No. 7 after losing in three overtimes to Utah. Phoenix holds a tiebreaker over Houston for the eighth and final spot.

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