NBA

Clippers-Suns Preview

For all the tiebreakers and playoff scenarios facing the Los Angeles Clippers, one outcome has already been determined.

The Clippers will start the postseason at home.

In their final contest before returning to Los Angeles to open the playoffs, the Clippers will face the Phoenix Suns, whose time in the playoff picture seems like a distant memory following a dismal stretch to end the season.

Los Angeles (55-26) beat Denver on Monday 110-103 for its sixth straight win and 13th in 14 games to remain in a tie for second place in the West with both Houston and San Antonio, and moved one game ahead of Memphis after the Grizzlies fell to Golden State.

Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick all scored at least 20 points in Monday's win, while Jordan grabbed 21 rebounds, his 13th game this season with at least 20.

"Even when we're playing well and the other team is playing well, we've shown the ability - far better this year than last year - to close out games," coach Doc Rivers said. "That's nice to have."

The Clippers will clinch the No. 3 spot with a win on Tuesday, and could move to No. 2 should both the Rockets and Spurs lose, in which case they would play No. 7 Dallas.

If Los Angeles cannot manage a victory, it could potentially fall to the No. 5 spot in the West, but would still have home-court advantage in the first round over No. 4 Portland.

''There's nobody that's not good in the West,'' Rivers said. ''You're going to have a tough series. The teams that embrace that are going to do well and the ones that don't are going to be out early.''

Phoenix (39-42) will miss the postseason for the fifth consecutive season after dropping nine of its last 10 to fall five games behind the No. 8 spot in the conference.

The Suns' offense has gone cold during that skid, scoring just 89.5 points per game. They averaged 104.2 in the 71 games prior, fifth-best in the NBA through March 22.

Eric Bledsoe finally reached the 20-point mark for the first time in 10 games Sunday against San Antonio, but the Suns fell 107-91.

''We just play hard,'' said Bledsoe, who is 8 for 35 (22.9 percent) from 3-point range in those 10 games. ''That's the least we can do these last couple of games, come out and play hard and try to give teams a fight.''

That offensive effort will put Phoenix at a significant disadvantage against Los Angeles, which has scored at least 120 points in each of the three meetings with the Suns this season - all Clippers wins.

The Suns have dropped six in a row in this series and could suffer their first-ever season sweep at the hands of Los Angeles, a rivalry that dates back to 1970.

Griffin has averaged 29.0 points in three contests against Phoenix this season, and Chris Paul has tallied 25.0 points and 10.3 assists per game. The two superstars scored 23 apiece in the Clippers' 120-100 win on Jan. 25.

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