The Los Angeles Clippers are in control of their own destiny for
home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The destiny of the Sacramento Kings’ franchise, meanwhile, is
far from certain.
The Clippers can clinch home-court advantage in round one
Wednesday night when they visit the Kings in what could be the
final NBA game ever in Sacramento.
Los Angeles (55-26) cruised in its home finale, 93-77 over
Portland on Tuesday. Caron Butler scored a game-high 22 points and
Blake Griffin added 16 in a team-high 27 minutes as the Clippers
got plenty of rest as they try to improve to 14-7 in the second
half of back-to-back games.
“It’s very, very important,” Griffin said. “We want to have
home-court advantage in the first round.”
The Clippers will gain the No. 3 seed with a victory Wednesday
if Denver’s franchise-record 22-game home win streak is snapped by
the Western Conference’s worst team, Phoenix. If Los Angeles and
Denver win, the Clippers will host Memphis.
The only way Los Angeles will receive home-court advantage with
a loss is if the Grizzlies fall at home to Utah.
Sacramento (28-53), meanwhile, is in the familiar position of
playing a home finale that could be the last NBA game ever in
California’s state capital.
Wednesday will conclude the Kings’ 28th season in Sacramento.
Hours before this tipoff, NBA owners will gather in a New York
boardroom to begin deliberating where the team will be located next
The Maloof family reached an agreement in January to sell a 65
percent controlling interest of the Kings to a Seattle group led by
hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen at a total franchise valuation of
$525 million, an NBA record. Hansen said he would raise the
valuation to $550 million in response to Sacramento mayor Kevin
Johnson pushing a non-binding financing plan for a $447 million
downtown arena through the City Council.
Two years ago, the Kings entered their home finale after
Anaheim’s City Council issued the bonds needed to entice the
franchise and new federal trademark rights were requested.
“Pretty much every year since I’ve been here, the past five
years, the last game of the season has been at home and it’s been
the same feeling – that uncertainty,” forward Jason Thompson said.
“It’s just a little bit more into the media this year and things
have been really going back and forth and stuff like that, so it’s
a little bit more emotion.”
On the court, Sacramento has dropped three straight and seven of
eight. Second-leading scorer Tyreke Evans left after hurting his
left knee in the first quarter of Monday’s 104-95 loss to Oklahoma
City, and coach Keith Smart said his preference was for the guard
to sit out Wednesday.
Griffin is averaging 20.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting to
help the Clippers go 2-1 against the Kings this season, though his
26 points made little difference in a 116-101 loss at Sacramento on
March 19. He could match up with DeMarcus Cousins, who has averaged
11.3 points in the season series.
Chauncey Billups returned Tuesday for the Clippers after he
missed eight games with a strained right groin. He missed all five
shots and had four points and five assists.
“I was happy to be out there running around,” he said. “I was a
little too excited with my shots.”