After coming up short against the Northwest Division leaders, the Los Angeles Clippers are still one win away from matching the franchise record set last season.
They have to like their chances of getting there with the Sacramento Kings coming to town.
Los Angeles tries to get back on track Saturday as it goes for a seventh consecutive home win over the Kings, who have not won a road game against a playoff contender in 2014.
The Clippers (55-24) easily got by the last-place Lakers 120-97 on Sunday, but they couldn’t keep up in Wednesday’s 107-101 defeat to Oklahoma City. Los Angeles climbed within one after trailing by as many as 16 in the fourth quarter but couldn’t complete the comeback.
"We’ve got to be able to not have so many runs, not have to fight back so much," All-Star point guard Chris Paul said. "We’ve done that all season long. We’re down, we know the game is never over."
Blake Griffin had 30 points and 12 rebounds and Paul scored 25, but they accounted for seven of the Clippers’ 17 turnovers which led to 22 points for the Thunder.
"Every once in a while you want to win a game too bad, and you get in the way of yourselves," coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought tonight we were in the way of ourselves a lot. That’s fixable."
That loss likely cost the Clippers any chance they had at catching Oklahoma City for second place in the Western Conference, but Griffin isn’t concerned about their seeding.
"We’re going to have to play three tough teams to get to the finals no matter what seed we are," he said. "If we were 1 or we were 8, we would have to play some tough teams home and away."
The Clippers have three more chances to pick up win No. 56, a feat they accomplished with last year’s 112-108 victory at Sacramento on the last day of the regular season. Los Angeles is 12-2 against the Kings since 2010-11, including 6-0 at home.
The Clippers have taken the last four matchups overall, though they all came down to the wire. These teams met three times in November but haven’t played since.
The Kings (27-52) have dropped four in a row for the first time in more than two months after falling 100-99 at Portland on Wednesday. DeMarcus Cousins scored 30 points and rookie Ray McCallum added 23 for Sacramento, which surrendered the game-winning 3-pointer with 7.9 seconds left.
"We’re playing against great teams that are playing for something and it’s not like they aren’t giving it their all," McCallum said. "So to know that we can compete with some of these top teams should give us a lot of confidence."
McCallum has averaged 7.2 assists starting the last nine games in place of injured point guard Isaiah Thomas, scoring at least 22 points in three of the last six. He’s posted a combined 19 in the other three, though, while shooting 22.5 percent.
The Kings are surely hoping to avoid Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, who is nearing a return after sitting out with a sore Achilles’ tendon. Crawford had 31 points, 11 assists and a season-high seven rebounds in a 104-98 overtime victory at Sacramento on Nov. 29.
"I’ll be able to get out there before the season ends," Crawford told the team’s official website. "I wouldn’t come back if it would (put me in jeopardy) having to sit out again in the playoffs."
The Clippers host Denver on Tuesday before closing the regular season at Portland on Wednesday.