LOS ANGELES — It turns out the Clippers do have something to play for.
If the stars align favorably Wednesday night, they can still finish with the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. But don’t count on it.
In fact, don’t bet on it.
The Clippers won their final regular-season home game, beating the Denver Nuggets 117-105 Tuesday night at Staples Center, and setting a franchise record with their 57th victory. If they beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday and the Oklahoma City Thunder lose to the Detroit Pistons — a longshot at best — the Clippers would move ahead of OKC for the second seed by virtue of a better conference record.
Possible? Yes. Likely? No.
One factor is working against the Clippers: Forward Blake Griffin and guard J.J. Redick won’t make the trip to Portland. Griffin picked up his 16th technical foul of the season, meaning he’s suspended for one game, and coach Doc Rivers doesn’t want Redick to play in back-to-back games as he returns from a back injury.
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"I want Blake to stay home and get some rest," Rivers said. "He’s so banged up."
It’s possible that guard Chris Paul also make not make the trip. Although Rivers said Paul would be on the team’s charter flight, he also said he was undecided.
"Chris is going, but I’m not sure yet," he said.
Paul said he hadn’t talked to Rivers about the trip, although he added, "You know my feeling. I’m always ready to play."
Bottom line: Griffin and Redick won’t be in Portland, and Paul may or may not be there. Tune in to find out.
Griffin was upset about the technical foul he received late in the second quarter after he tried to swipe at the ball as Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov drove toward the basket. He was called after he hit Mozgov in the head.
Asked if he thought it would be rescinded, Griffin said, "I honestly do. It’s one of those where it was kind of a continuation. If I make a play on the ball and hit the ball first and he gives me a tech, I don’t know if that’s going to stand up. But we’ll see."
Griffin scored 24 points, and Paul had 21 on 8-of-10 shooting. The Clippers had to hold on after Denver made a late run, but in the end, it was a record-setting victory in front of another sellout crowd.
The Clippers set a franchise mark last season with 56 wins and bettered it Tuesday. But no one was ready to celebrate.
"We were part of that last year, and we lost in the first round (of the playoffs)," Paul said. "It’s all well and good, but we’re at a point now where it’s all about the postseason."