(SportsNetwork.com) - The defending champion San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers are pretty much locks to make the playoffs, barring any setbacks, for the remainder of the season.
The Clippers and Spurs will tangle Thursday at Staples Center, as the NBA commences play following the long All-Star break.
Los Angeles entered the break with back-to-back wins, but won for only the third time in the past eight games with last Wednesday's 110-95 victory over the Houston Rockets in the opener of a four-game homestand. NBA leading scorer James Harden was held to nine points for the Rockets and DeAndre Jordan had another monster performance for LA.
Jordan recorded 24 points and 20 rebounds, one game after providing 22 points and 27 boards.
"He's finding his way," Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said of Jordan. "We're trusting him more."
Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick scored 20 points apiece for the Clippers, who held Houston to 16 points in the fourth quarter and 39 percent shooting.
Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul had 12 points and a game-high 15 assists in Sunday's All-Star Game.
The Clippers have won four in a row at home and will also welcome Sacramento and Memphis to Staples Center. They are 21-7 at home, 13-2 at home against the West and second in the NBA with 106.7 ppg.
Clippers star forward Blake Griffin (elbow surgery) is still out, which is why it's important for Jordan to step it up inside. Jordan leads the NBA with 13.8 rebounds per game.
San Antonio is in championship form with 15 wins in the last 20 games, and is 2-1 on its lengthy and annual Rodeo Road Trip.
The Spurs made it two straight wins with last Wednesday's 104-87 defeat of the Detroit Pistons at The Palace and were led by Danny Green's 19 points. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili scored 17 and 13 points, respectively, and both Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard scored eight points.
Detroit managed just 12 points in the first quarter and was outscored by a 34-24 margin in the third.
"We were pretty good, especially until mid-fourth quarter." said Parker of the Spurs' defense. "Overall we had a great defensive game."
San Antonio has held its last four opponents under 100 points and improved to 14-12 outside the Alamo City. The Spurs still have trips to Golden State, Utah, Portland, Sacramento and Phoenix on the docket.
Duncan recorded two points and nine boards in the All-Star Game.
The Spurs are 2-1 against the Clippers this season. Los Angeles halted a four- game slide in this series with a 105-85 triumph on Jan. 31. San Antonio is 10-4 in the past 14 contests against the Clippers.