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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 25 24 21 25 95
Play by Play Los Angeles Clippers 30 26 26 27 109
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Clippers beat Lakers 109-95 to win division title

By BETH HARRIS


Posted Apr 07 2013 7:50PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Chris Paul held up the red T-shirt reading `Can't Stop Los Angeles' for a quick post-game photo. He didn't put it on, and neither did his Clippers teammates.

There was no celebrating on court or in the locker room after they beat the Lakers 109-95 on Sunday to clinch the Clippers' first Pacific Division title in franchise history against a team that has long overshadowed them.

"It just feels like something we were supposed to do," said Paul, who had 24 points and 12 assists. "It means we're headed in the right direction. We're not satisfied. We understand this is something small compared to the big picture."

Blake Griffin had 24 points and 12 rebounds as the playoff-bound Clippers swept the Lakers 4-0 for the first time since Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981.

The 1974-75 team, known as the Buffalo Braves, had the franchise's only other sweep of the Lakers.

Fans chanted, "Sweep! Sweep!" in the closing seconds.

Sterling accepted a congratulatory handshake from a fan after the game.

"It's always good to sweep a team in your division, in the West," said Griffin, savoring the first division title of his young career. "I'm proud of how we won the game a little bit differently. We kept up a nice tempo the whole game."

Jamal Crawford had 20 points off the bench, DeAndre Jordan had 13 rebounds and Caron Butler scored 14 points for the Clippers, who knew that even if they lost, they could have clinched later Sunday if Utah won at Golden State.

"We didn't want to do it that way," Paul said. "We wanted to clinch on our own terms."

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said, "You have to earn it and today we did."

As the division winner, the Clippers are guaranteed a top-four seed but will only open the playoffs with home-court advantage if they finish the season with a better record than the team in fifth, which currently is Memphis.

"Hopefully, we're playing well at the right time going to the playoffs," Crawford said.

He chalked up winning the division title at home against the Lakers to "the basketball gods set it up that way."

Dwight Howard scored 25 points, including 9 of 13 free throws, for the Lakers, who played without injured starters Steve Nash and Metta World Peace. Kobe Bryant added 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and Pau Gasol had 12 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers' three-game winning streak ended.

Playing as the home team, the Clippers dealt their Staples Center co-tenant's playoff hopes a serious blow.

The Lakers fell into a tie with Utah for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West. If the Jazz won later, they would move a half-game ahead of the Lakers, who have five regular-season games left. The Jazz own the tiebreaker with the Lakers.

"We've got a bigger challenge than worrying about beating the Clippers in one game," Bryant said. "They obviously performed extremely well against us all four times. Our concern is playing well in order to get into the playoffs, get guys healthy, and go in there and see what we can do."

The Lakers led by seven points to start the game before the Clippers took the lead for good. The Lakers owned a two-point edge in the paint, but Clippers had more second-chance and fast-break points. They also controlled the boards, 50-36.

"They made some pretty tough shots, and they had players come in and make some big baskets under duress," Bryant said.

"They kind of kept us at bay and they would get some turnovers and get out in transition."

The game featured three of the NBA's top-five dunkers in Griffin, Howard and Jordan. They all got some alley-oops in, although the Clippers' usual Lob City show didn't emerge in force until the fourth.

That's when Paul fed Griffin on a fast break late in the game and Griffin raced in for a one-handed jam. Paul stole the ball from Howard and sped up court before flipping it to Jordan for a monster slam. Griffin got the fans on their feet with under 2 minutes to go on a put-back slam that he followed with a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock.

"That's how we're supposed to play," Jordan said. "As long as we bring that type of energy from jump ball to the end of the game, we'll be OK."

The Lakers closed within single digits once in the fourth on a three-point play by Earl Clark. Bryant had 12 points in the fourth, including six free throws.

The Clippers stretched a seven-point halftime lead to 14 points in the third on a 3-pointer by Butler after leading 56-49 at halftime.

NOTES: The Clippers need one more win for the most at home in franchise history. They also had 30 in 1974-75. ... The Clippers have won the season series against the Lakers twice in franchise history, including this season. ... Clippers G Chauncey Billups missed his fifth straight game with a strained right groin. ... Nash missed his third in a row with a strained right hamstring. ... World Peace is ahead of schedule in recovering from left knee surgery and could return sooner than the six weeks he was expected to be out. ... Rihanna, Billy Crystal and Regina King attended the game.

Copyright 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited


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Points Bryant/Howard, 25
Rebounds Gasol and Jordan (LAC), 13
Assists Paul (LAC), 12
Steals Paul (LAC), 3
Blocks Howard, 4
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On overall thoughts on tonight's game:
“Different phases and different things that happened [were the difference in the game]. You’ve got to give them credit. They hit big shots. They played well. I thought there were times, especially in the first half, we didn’t get back and we turned the ball over, and that cost us points. They were having trouble scoring in the half court, and we kind of got them started. Then they hit big shots and got away from us a little bit. Probably, the start of the third quarter, I didn’t think we came out with the mental intensity that we needed to have to get it back to even.”

On Clippers offensive rebounds:
“They’re very athletic. They’re long; they’re good. Some weird stuff happened. They missed some shots that were so off, that they just rebounded crazy. They were quicker to the ball than we were.”




Kobe Bryant:

On overall thoughts on tonight's game:
“The Clippers played well. They made some pretty tough shots and had players come in and make some big baskets under duress. They kind of kept us at bay. They were able to get some turnovers and get out in transition. At the start of the third quarter, they got out to a nice cushion and we weren’t able to overcome that.”

On Clippers rebounding:
“They’re very athletic; they have good size. They’re able to get over the top of us and control the paint.”

On difference in the game:
“We got off to a slow start in the third quarter. Got a couple calls that didn’t go our way with Pau [Gasol] and Dwight [Howard], which led to big baskets for them to start the second half and kind of put us behind the eight ball.”




Pau Gasol:

On Clippers rebounding:
“We talked about it before the game today. The Clippers had two games with nineteen offensive rebounds. They had another one with twenty and today was sixteen. So, it was a big aspect of the game. You have to control the boards. You can’t allow teams that have so many weapons to have second opportunities. They did take a lot of long shots. Everybody has to be involved. Everybody has to get in the paint, cover all of the angles, and get those long rebounds. It was something that we talked about, we didn’t execute that well. They’re a challenging team on the boards. They have good athletes and they’re active. It’s not easy to do, but we could have done better. Unfortunately, they out rebounded us by fourteen. That’s too many rebounds.”

On fighting for a playoff spot in the last few games of the season:
“It is [difficult], but you adjust. You adjust to the situation and you adjust to reality, and that’s what we’re dealing with right now. I think that it’s not going to be tiring if we are successful and we do make it. I think it’s going to be hopefully reinforcing and encouraging. We have five games left, we are going to try and win them all to give ourselves the best chance.”




Dwight Howard:

On overall thoughts on tonight's game:
“Their defense was pretty good towards the end of the game and I think that’s why they won.”

On Clippers rebounding:
“They did a good job attacking the basket. It forced us to help. Then they had those guys like Matt Barnes and Caron Butler in there rebounding too. So, it was a tough one tonight.”

On going forward:
“[We have to] come back and play the way we played to get those wins.”

“We just have to win every game, but focus on one game at a time.”




Vinny Del Negro:

On clinching the Pacific Division title with today’s win:
“I’m just happy for the guys, happy for the fans, happy for the organization. It’s been a long time. You have to earn it and I feel we did. Today was a good example; I thought our tempo was better, I thought our energy, our chemistry and the things we were doing out there were very productive. We missed some shots early and they got off to a lead. But I thought we kept our composure very well and just kept on finding a way to get back into it. Then our defense kicked in a little bit. I thought we took control of the game middle of the third quarter and got that double-digit lead and then were able to weather some of Kobe’s shots and some of the easy baskets they got. The players deserve it. They worked hard and it’s great to finally accomplish it.”

On overall thoughts on today’s game:
“We played better today. I liked our tempo, I liked our ball movement. We controlled our turnovers pretty much. We got big performances from a lot of guys. I thought DJ [DeAndre Jordan] was very active with 13 rebounds. I thought Blake [Griffin] and Chris [Paul] were in tune with everything in terms of locking into timeouts, demanding things from their teammates. I thought they set the tone for us. Jamal [Crawford] came in and does what he does, but our bench was special.”

On Chris Paul and Blake Griffin each with a team-high 24 points:
“You’re a different team when your top players do that. Today, the ball was moving and we got some easy ones. Blake was diving, I thought he was aggressive and Chris was finding him. Chris did a good job with his assists-to-turnovers as always, but he was aggressive offensively. With the bigs sitting back we could get our shots off and I thought he did a good job picking his spots.”

On playoff race:
“Everyone’s fighting. The Lakers are fighting to stay in the playoffs. Right now we’re fighting our seeding and trying to get home court. There are no easy games right now. The teams that are out are trying to be spoilers and the teams that in are trying to vie for their position. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves in terms of our preparation as we go through practice the next couple of days to get ready for the next one.”




Chris Paul:

On overall thoughts on today’s game:
“It wasn’t easy, by no means. We found a way to come out aggressive, both offensively and defensively. I think me and Blake [Griffin] set the tone early. We talked about it after the game, when myself along with Blake [Griffin] came out aggressive like that on both ends of the court, it makes a lot tougher to beat.”

On clinching the division:
“It means a lot. It means we’re headed in the right direction. There was no cake, no champagne popping or anything like that in the locker room. I think that says even more about our team and that we’re not satisfied. We understand that this is something small compared to the big picture. We just want to continue to work hard and keep trying to play the right way going into the playoffs. We’ve been saying for a while, as bad as we’ve been playing a little while ago, we can only get better. If we keep this pace up, we’ll be OK.”

On a win for the fans:
“We’ve had the opportunity to speak to season ticket holders who have been here for a very, very long time who have been waiting for this. It’s not just about us guys in the locker room; it’s about the organization. It’s about the Sterling Family; they’ve been doing this for a long time now so it’s good to see what that feels like.”

On clinching against the Lakers at home:
“It’s good to clinch the division, but what I told the guys before the game is that we knew that when Gold State [Warriors] lost, we still could have clinched the division. But we didn’t want to do it that way. We wanted to clinch the division on our own terms and win a big, emotional game here in the city. We were able to do it.”




Blake Griffin:

On first division title:
“It means something to me; it’s my first one. Never having been in that situation or even my first year not even being close, it means something to me. At the same time, we kind of had the mindset that this was what we were supposed to do, and we want something a little bit more than that.”

On issues addressed that contributed to the recent losses:
“We just talked about our intensity on defense. Once we do get the ball, if somebody scores, if they score or if we have a break down, to not sit and dwell on it; just to get it out and play with pace. I thought we did a tremendous job, especially to start the second half, with getting stops. Even when we didn’t get stops, we got it out and kicked it ahead. CP [Chris Paul] was making plays, Caron [Butler] was making shots, DJ [DeAndre Jordan] was running; we all did our part.”

On sweeping the Lakers:
“It’s always good to sweep a team in your division and sweep a team in the west. It’s always good to get wins, so I’m proud of the way that we won each game a little bit differently. Some games were out of reach and we didn’t have to play in the 4th quarter. One of the games we had to dig it out. This game we played at a nice pace throughout the entire game.”




DeAndre Jordan:

On winning the division:
“It’s big for us and it’s big for the organization. It’s big for our fans. It’s big for the Clippers’ community. It’s not the only thing that we want to do. We want to take this momentum into the playoffs. This is the first time that this has ever happened in franchise history so we want to enjoy it, but we know that this is not the only thing that we want to do. Like I keep saying, it’s big for us but we just have to keep pushing forward.”

On how they played today:
“It’s great. That’s how we’re supposed to play. As long as we bring that type of energy from the jump ball to the end of the game, we’ll be okay.”




Jamal Crawford:

On successful start of the game:
“We came out with a lot of energy. We played together right from the start of the game. I thought we set the tone with the starters and then the bench came in and we were very productive as well. So for us it was a good win but we need to continue to build momentum.”

On Lakers defense against him:
“I’m only as good as my teammates and coaches. I try to take advantage of it. They put me in great situations. I want to be aggressive. That’s the way I was playing at the beginning of the season and I want to get back to that going into the playoffs.”

On making history:
“They have little meanings as well. The division championship is an accomplishment. You don’t want to just look over it because the last couple of weeks we were just struggling. I think that we’ve had a terrific season. Hopefully we’re playing well at the right time going towards the playoffs. We really want to play for a championship and this is just a stepping stone to get there. This is how I felt in the beginning of the season. We only have five games left. I feel good about the way we’re playing going into the playoffs.”

On clinching the division at home against the Lakers:
“No matter what we say there will always be an inner city rivalry. Even when there really wasn’t a rivalry, I’m sure the Lakers got up for the game to play the Clippers. Our fans have a little something to stick their chests out about. We’re trying to create our own little history.”




Caron Butler:

On getting under Kobe's skin:
“A great player like Kobe Bryant, he’s one of the best players of our generation. We have a lot of respect for him, but we had to try to make it difficult for him. We had to force him to take difficult shots and make him facilitate more. I thought we did a great job of that.”

On finishing strong:
“I thought that one of our main goals was to accomplish each small goal first, so that we could have good momentum going into the playoffs and obviously have healthy guys. We want to win the whole thing and we’re right on pace so let’s keep this thing going.”




Matt Barnes:

On defeating the Lakers:
“The Lakers have dominated for so many years. This was a big step to start turning things into our own bit of history. We haven’t been playing the best basketball lately so the important thing is that we got the win today. We need to pick our game up going into the playoffs.”

On winning the division title:
“The franchise has come a long way. It’s a new era around here. Obviously winning the division title is great for the franchise.”

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LAKERS-CLIPPERS PREVIEW

By TAYLOR BECHTOLD


Posted Apr 06 2013 5:42PM

After capturing their franchise-record 50th victory, the Los Angeles Clippers have an opportunity to reach another milestone.

Fittingly enough, it could come against their Staples Center co-tenants.

The Clippers look to clinch the first division title in their 42-year history and deliver a big blow to the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff hopes Sunday.

The Clippers (50-26) snapped a three-game losing streak with a 126-101 victory over Phoenix on Wednesday, topping the single-season record for wins set in 1974-75 when the team was in Buffalo.

"It's big," said center DeAndre Jordan, who led the way with 20 points and 12 rebounds, "but we're looking at the bigger picture. This is one thing we can check off."

Now the Clippers can add a division title to their list of accomplishments and end the Lakers' five-year stranglehold on the Pacific with a win or a Golden State loss to Utah on Sunday.

After taking the first three matchups by an average of 13.0 points, the Clippers also have a chance to sweep this season series for the first time since 1974-75.

"Whenever you do something first it's significant, but we expect more and we should," coach Vinny Del Negro said.

The Lakers will try to keep their hold on the final Western Conference playoff spot following a hard-fought 86-84 home win over Memphis on Friday.

Kobe Bryant had 24 points and nine assists while Pau Gasol scored 19 and added nine rebounds for the Lakers (40-36), who won their third in a row and maintained a half-game lead over the Jazz for eighth place.

The Lakers, winners of 13 of 15 at home, play five of their final six at Staples Center, though they're the road team for this game.

"This is the big push for us," Bryant said. "We've got a very tough stretch, and we're excited. You want to be going into the playoffs feeling like you're playing good ball against tough opposition. It's been a lot of figuring out we had to do, but it's better late than never."

Bryant totaled 78 points while shooting 29 for 48 from the floor in the first two meetings, then scored 20 with 11 assists in a 125-101 loss to the Clippers on Feb. 14.

The All-Star guard has averaged 33.1 points and 55.5 percent shooting in his last seven in the series.

Center Dwight Howard will try to bounce back after battling foul trouble and finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds Friday. He's averaged 61.3 percent shooting against the Clippers this season.

While they'll be without forward Metta World Peace (knee) for at least four weeks, the Lakers could get healthier for this matchup. Point guard Steve Nash will be a game-time decision after missing the last two with a strained right hamstring.

If he's able to play, Nash may face a challenge in keeping up with counterpart Chris Paul. The Clippers' All-Star has averaged 23.5 points and 14.3 assists in his last four against the Lakers.

Forward Blake Griffin scored nine points Wednesday, but he's totaled 46 and shot 20 of 31 in the last two in this series.

The Clippers have averaged 112.3 points and made 30 of 66 (45.5 percent) from 3-point range in the three games.

The Lakers, though, have allowed 82.5 points and 10-for-33 shooting from beyond the arc in their last two.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #24 Bryant SF #5 Butler  
  #16 GasolPF #32 Griffin  
  #12 Howard C #6 Jordan  
  #20 Meeks SG #34 Green  
  #10 Nash PG #3 Paul  


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Lakers Kobe Bryant
(bone spur, left foot) is probable.
Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
Antawn Jamison
(sprained right wrist) is probable.
Steve Nash
(strained right hamstring) is doubtful.
Metta World Peace
(lateral meniscus tear, left knee) is out.
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Clippers Chauncey Billups
(strained right groin) is doubtful.
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11/02 - LAC 105 @ LAL 95
01/04 - LAL 102 @ LAC 107
02/14 - LAC 125 @ LAL 101
04/07 - LAL @ LAC
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