- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers will be the first to admit the final three games are nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the playoffs.
After their loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this week, the Clippers secured the third seed in the Western Conference and can’t improve or lose that spot regardless of how the regular season plays out.
Of course, that’s not going to stop the Clippers from playing their starters and trying to win as they did Saturday in defeating the Sacramento Kings 117-101.
“We want to win,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “You always want to play well, but if we win does it mean we’re going to be great in the first [round]? No. It doesn’t. We’re playing a different team. So we have to be ready for that.”
How it happened: The Clippers played like a team going through the motions for the most part. They took a 14-point lead in the third quarter but allowed the Kings to get back into the game and make it a one-possession game before finally pulling away for the win.
What it means: The Clippers have tied their franchise record with 56 wins in a season and are one win away from establishing a new mark with two games left. The Clippers have already won the Pacific Division and clinched the third seed.
Hits: Blake Griffin had 27 points, nine assists and four rebounds, while Chris Paul had 17 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. DeAndre Jordan added 21 points, seven blocks and nine rebounds, and J.J. Redick had 13 points and hit 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. Jamal Crawford also returned and scored 10 points and hit 2-of-4 from 3-point range, as well.
Misses: Darren Collison has been an integral part of the Clippers’ success this season, stepping into the starting lineup after injuries to Paul, Redick and Crawford. With all three healthy for the first time in awhile, Collison struggled, scoring just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Stat of the game: The Clippers outscored the Kings in the paint 54-42 and had 25 fast-break points to just five for the Kings.
Up next: The Clippers play their final home game of the regular season and their second to last game before the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have defeated the Clippers in their last two meetings, both in Denver, with the last win March 17, snapping the Clippers’ 11-game winning streak.