Clippers end season tonight at Phoenix
As the Los Angeles Clippers look to continue their surge into the playoffs, the Phoenix Suns hope for a positive end to the second-worst season in franchise history.
Though most of their starters expect to be rested, the visiting Clippers try to record a seventh consecutive victory Wednesday night against the Suns.
Locked into the fourth spot in the Western Conference, Los Angeles (53-28) has certainly heated up at the right time. Chris Paul had 12 points with 13 assists as the Clippers won for the 10th time in 11 games, 110-84 over Memphis on Tuesday.
"Our chemistry is great," backup Jeff Green said. "It's getting better and better with each game. We need to keep progressing. The playoffs are right around the corner, and we need to be focused and ready."
With little to play for in the regular-season finale, the likes of Paul, DeAndre Jordan and even Blake Griffin will be rested. Guard J.J. Redick almost certainly won't play after he suffered a bruised heel in the first half after trying his own franchise record with his 200th made 3-pointer.
"As a group we'll talk about it, but there will be several guys missing for sure," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "Maybe even some coaches."
Los Angeles shot 54.7 percent Tuesday, and 48.9 percent in the last 11 contests. More importantly, it's yielded 87.2 points per game and 38.3 percent shooting in the last five.
"I love the way we're playing defense right now," Rivers said.
Austin Rivers scored 14 and Green added 13 points for a Clippers bench that's averaging 41.4 points since Dec. 26 - second-most in the NBA during that span.
"We play hard at all times," Austin Rivers told the Clippers' official website about his fellow reserves.
While Rivers and Green should suit up Wednesday, Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jamal Crawford almost definitely will after he was rested against the Grizzlies. Crawford has totaled 52 points and gone 8 of 17 from 3-point range in his last two games.
Los Angeles took two of the first three from the Suns (22-59), but its four-game winning streak at Phoenix ended with a 118-104 loss Nov. 12.
Not since their 16-66 inaugural 1968-69 season have the Suns been this bad.
"I think it's important that we keep on fighting," said forward Mirza Teletovic, who had a game-high 26 points in Monday's 105-101 loss to Sacramento.
Owners of the fourth-worst record in the league, the Suns will have a legitimate chance at earning the No. 1 overall draft pick in June. They also need to decide on a coach with names such as interim boss Earl Watson, ex-coach Mike D'Antoni, Golden State assistant Luke Walton and Villanova's Jay Wright reportedly rumored to be in the mix.
Devin Booker (13.8 points per game) expects to be in Phoenix's plans going forward. The rookie guard scored 22 on Monday, and has averaged 21.3 points in the last 13 contests.
"I'm blessed to be in this situation," said the 19-year-old Booker, who is the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to score 1,000 points in a season. "I have vets around here that want to see me succeed. ... It means a lot to me."
Booker totaled just five points on 2-of-10 shooting before he fouled out in a 124-84 loss at Los Angeles on Feb. 22.
Teletovic has averaged 22.3 points in six games this month.