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FINAL | April 7, 2013 | Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA

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Rafael Guerrero

LOS ANGELES – There was a lot at stake Sunday afternoon when the Clippers and the Lakers squared off for the last time this season at Staples Center, aside from just bragging rights.

Once again, the Clippers answered the call, outscoring the Lakers in every quarter en route to a 109-95 win in over their city mates. It was the third time this season the Clippers beat their rivals by double digits.

“I liked our tempo,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I liked our ball movement. We controlled our turnovers pretty much. We got big performances from a lot of guys.”

With the win, the Clippers (51-26) secured their first Pacific Division title in franchise history and swept the Lakers (40-37) for the first time since the Clippers moved to Los Angeles.

“I’m just happy for the guys, happy for the fans, happy for the organization,” Del Negro said. “It’s been a long time. You have to earn it and I feel we did.”

Both teams were also fighting for playoff position; the Clippers jostling for one of the top-four seeds while the Lakers are scrapping with the Utah Jazz for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

The Clippers are now two games back of the Denver Nuggets for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and a game behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who defeated Sacramento, 89-87, later Sunday. The Lakers fell back into a tie for the No. 8 seed with the Jazz pending their game against the Golden State Warriors later tonight.

“Everyone’s fighting,” Del Negro said. “The Lakers are fighting to stay in the playoffs. Right now we’re fighting for our seeding and trying to get home court. There are no easy games right now.”

Although the win was cause for celebration, Clippers point guard was also encouraged with the team’s performance on the court as the playoffs loom ever closer.

“We just want to continue to work hard and continue to play the right way going into the playoffs,” Paul said. “If we keep this pace up and then we’ll be okay.”

Five players scored in double figures for the Clippers, led by Paul and Blake Griffin with 24 apiece while Jamal Crawford added 20. It was the 28th time this season that Crawford has scored 20-plus coming off the bench.

The Clippers also did the dirty work on the inside, outrebounding the Lakers 50-36 including a 16-10 edge on the offensive glass.

“They did a good job on the boards,” Lakers star Kobe Bryant said. “I think their athleticism; they were able to jump over the top of us and knock some balls loose.”

DeAndre Jordan and Griffin were a major reason for the edge on the glass as they out-rebounded the Lakers duo of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, 25-17.

“We got big performances from a lot of guys,” Del Negro said. “I thought D.J. (Jordan) was very active with 13 rebounds. I thought Blake and Chris were in tune with everything in terms of locking into timeouts, demanding things from their teammates. I thought they set the tone for us.”

The Clippers had another slow start, going 3-for-11 to open the game and trailed for much of the first quarter. But the team woke up with a flurry, hitting their next 11 shots and finished the half shooting 53.8% (21-for-39) to take a 56-49 lead into the locker room at halftime.

They continued to roll in the second half as they hit 7-of-11 in the opening five minutes of the third quarter to take a 14-point lead and the Lakers could never recover.

“I thought we did a tremendous job, especially in the second half, of getting stops,” Griffin said. “Even when we didn’t get stops we kicked it ahead and CP (Paul) was making plays; Caron (Butler) was making shots, D.J. was running. We all did our part.”

Butler scored 14 points in 26 minutes and Matt Barnes was deathly efficient against his former team, going 5-for-6 from the field and 1-for-2 from beyond the arc on his way to 12 points.

The Lakers were able to cut the Clippers lead to nine with 7:40 left in the game but the Clippers answered nearly every Lakers basket with one of their own. Then, with a little more than a minute left, Griffin put the exclamation point on the Clippers victory.

Paul penetrated into the paint and then found Griffin wide open on the right wing for a 3-pointer that sent the Clippers faithful into a frenzy as the division title appeared within reach.


Chauncey Billups (strained right groin) did not play for the Clippers. Steve Nash (strained right hamstring) did not play for the Lakers… The Clippers average margin of victory in their four wins over the Lakers this year was 13.5… The Clippers out-rebounded the Lakers, 181-147, in their four games this season, including a 57-37 edge on the offensive glass. 


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