Wizards put win streak on line against Clippers

( - The Washington Wizards own the NBA's longest winning streak, but it'll be tough to extend it Friday night when they visit the Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Clippers.

Washington has won five straight and is just a half-game behind the Chicago Bulls for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards trail the Toronto Raptors by one full game for third.

The Clippers have taken two in a row and remain in a dog fight for playoff positioning in the Western Conference. LA is tied for fifth with the Dallas Mavericks, 1 1/2 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers, but one game ahead of the San Antonio Spurs.

The Wizards claimed two consecutive road triumphs, including the opener of this four-game odyssey west. Washington toppled the red-hot Utah Jazz, 88-84, on Wednesday.

John Wall tallied 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Wizards. Paul Pierce added 18 points for Washington, which ended Utah's six- game win streak. It also broke a three-game losing streak in Utah.

"This probably wasn't one of our better games," admitted Wizards coach Randy Wittman. "But we gutted it out because we got stops."

The Wizards held on despite a number of crucial mistakes down the stretch. First, holding a four-point lead with 20 seconds to play, Pierce traveled on an inbounds pass. Then, Washington's defense allowed Gordon Hayward to fly in for an alley-oop on a side out-of-bounds play, and Wall dribbled the ball off his foot under Utah's basket with 11 ticks remaining, leaving the door open.

But Hayward's 3-point attempt was off the mark, and Wall hit two free throws to secure the win.

The Wizards will visit the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors on this trek.

The Clippers are 2-1 since Blake Griffin returned to action after missing 15 games for surgery to remove a staph infection from his elbow. After a home loss to the Houston Rockets, LA has knocked off the Charlotte Hornets at home and the Kings in Sacramento.

On Wednesday, Chris Paul scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half to guide the Clippers to a 116-105 victory. Paul also dished out 11 assists for the Clippers, who went 17-of-37 from beyond the arc.

J.J. Redick made seven 3-pointers en route to 27 points and Griffin tallied 19 points and 10 rebounds.

"Still not completely there," said Griffin, referring to his recent surgery. "Just have to be patient with it I guess."

Trailing 80-73, the Kings started the fourth quarter on an 11-4 run to tie things up. But the Clippers responded with an 18-6 spurt. Redick and Hedo Turkoglu each made two 3-pointers during the burst, with Redick's four-point play making it 102-90 with 5:30 left.

Sacramento never got closer than seven the rest of the way. Los Angeles went 8-of-12 from beyond the arc in the final period.

The Clippers host New Orleans on Sunday, then head east for three games.

The Wizards beat the Clips in Washington on Dec. 12, but LA has taken 10 of the last 12 meetings. The Clippers own a six-game home winning streak over the Wizards.