Sacramento, CA – Chris Paul had a double-double and Jamal Crawford dropped in 24 points off the bench as the Los Angeles Clippers earned homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a 112-108 victory over the Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena.
Crawford connected on 6-of-8 shots from beyond the arc in the contest and Paul had a team-high 25 points and 11 assists for the Clippers (56-26) who as the fourth seed in the Western Conference will take on the fifth-seed Memphis Grizzlies in the first round on Saturday.
Chauncey Billups added 17 points, Matt Barnes had 12 off the bench and Caron Butler chipped in 11 points while DeAndre Jordan pulled in 10 rebounds.
Demarcus Cousins closed the regular season well with 36 points and a career- high 22 rebounds for the Kings (28-54) who might have been playing their last game in Sacramento. On Wednesday the NBA Board of Governors met to begin discussions on the sale and proposed relocation of the Kings by a Seattle group.
Marcus Thornton hit five shots from beyond the arc and finished with 21 points as well for the Kings while Isaiah Thomas had a double-double (15 points, 10 assists) and Travis Outlaw dropped in a season-high 17 points off the bench.
After trailing by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Kings rallied to take a 98-97 lead with 2:31 remaining in regulation on a 3- pointer from Patrick Patterson.
The Clippers would respond with a pair of 3-pointers from Crawford to go up by five points. Then Cousins and Blake Griffin traded dunks to keep the Clippers' advantage at five going into the final minute.
Cousins was fouled going to the hoop and sank a pair of free-throws to make it a one-possession game yet again. The Clippers then took over but thanks to some solid defense from the Kings the ball wound up in Ryan Hollins' hands, who missed a desperation jumper as the shot clock threatened to expire. However, Griffin came flying in to tip-in the rebound and put the Clippers ahead 107-102 with 23.8 seconds remaining. Los Angles then nailed 5-of-6 free-throw attempts in the last 20 seconds to seal the victory.
The first quarter was tightly contested with the Clippers taking their largest lead of the period, 12-7, on a 3-pointer from Billups midway through the period. There would be six lead changes after that with the final one coming on Barnes' breakaway dunk with 7.2 seconds remaining in the frame.
The Clippers ran out to a 38-27 lead after a 11-1 run to open the second quarter capped by another dunk from Barnes off an assist from Crawford. Outlaw got a pair of jumpers to fall during a 6-0 spurt from the Kings that got them back to within five. The Clippers would reclaim double-digit advantages four different times before the break. However, Thomas nailed a pull up 3-pointer with just over a minute remaining to account for the Clippers' 54-46 halftime advantage.
Outlaw really got it going in the second quarter with 11 points off the bench on 5-of-8 shooting.
After Butler drained a 3-pointer to open the second half, the Kings went on a 16-2 run to take a 62-59 lead midway through the period. Thornton was instrumental in the run as he knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points during the stretch.
The Kings were unable to hold onto the lead though and the Clippers scored the last six points of the quarter to take a 78-70 lead in the fourth period.
Crawford set the Clippers' franchise records for 3-pointers in a season (149) ... The game featured 12 lead changes ... Griffin had just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting and four rebounds ... The Clippers also faced the Grizzlies in the first round last season, winning in seven games...The Kings have had fewer than 30 wins in five straight seasons.