The Los Angeles Clippers are one victory shy of a new single-season franchise record.
Getting it Tuesday night may prove tougher than expected when they host a Denver Nuggets team that’s played better of late.
The Clippers (56-24) can still earn the second seed in the Western Conference, though they’ll need to win their last two games and have Oklahoma City lose at home to Detroit on Wednesday.
Los Angeles tied the club record for wins, set last season, with a 117-101 home victory over Sacramento on Saturday. Blake Griffin scored 27 points while DeAndre Jordan added 21 as the Clippers held a 25-5 advantage in fast-break points.
Los Angeles, winner of 19 of 23, has averaged 112.3 points in its last eight.
"We’re still playing for something," said point guard Chris Paul, scoring 23.1 points a game and shooting 47.1 percent from 3-point range over his last eight. "We can keep building confidence on defense. We’re at our best when we’re running and getting stops."
The Nuggets (36-44) have clinched their worst record since going 17-65 in 2002-03 – also the last time they missed the postseason.
Denver, though, has won three of four since dropping six of seven. Kenneth Faried had 24 points and 21 rebounds in a 101-94 home victory over Utah on Saturday, two days after finishing with 18 and 17 while making the winning shot with two seconds left to beat Golden State 100-99.
Denver’s recent surge has come without leading scorer Ty Lawson, who’s missed four straight games with a sprained left ankle. Darrell Arthur also left in the first quarter Saturday and is day to day with a strained left knee.
"I’m proud of them and the way they’re finishing up this season," coach Brian Shaw said. "I think this is exactly what we wanted to see ending up the season to carry over into next season, win or lose, the kind of effort it’s going to take and the togetherness we’re going to need to be successful."
The Nuggets have lost 14 of 18 on the road overall while the Clippers have won six of seven at home in the series. Denver, though, has taken four of the last five matchups.
Los Angeles won the first meeting of the season, 112-91 at home Dec. 21, but has shot 11 for 42 from 3-point range in two losses at Denver since. Randy Foye hit a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer of a 116-115 victory Feb. 3 to overcome Griffin’s 36 points.
Griffin is averaging 28.7 points and 13.0 rebounds against Denver this season.
Los Angeles’ Jamal Crawford had 10 points Saturday after sitting out five games with a sore Achilles, while Danny Granger missed his seventh straight due to a strained left hamstring.