Clippers down Nuggets for club-record 57th win
Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots during their NBA games against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on April 15, 2014 - by Stephen Dunn
Blake Griffin had 24 points -- and was assessed his 16th technical foul of the season -- in the victory on Tuesday.
Chris Paul added 21 points and 10 assists for Los Angeles, who must beat Portland on Wednesday, the last night of the regular season, and have the lowly Detroit Pistons beat the Thunder in Oklahoma City to earn the second seed behind San Antonio in the Western Conference playoffs.
DeAndre Jordan scored 13 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for the Clippers, who snapped the Nuggets' three-game winning streak.
Kenneth Faried had 21 points and six rebounds and Timofey Mozgov contributed 18 points and 11 rebounds for Denver.
Griffin was assessed the technical foul with 3:23 left in the second quarter, when he tried to swipe the ball away from a driving Mozgov and hit him in the head.
Griffin's 16th technical of the season will trigger a one-game suspension on Wednesday under NBA rules -- unless league officials overturn the "T" upon review of the play.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said it would make no difference to his plans, since he wanted Griffin to skip the trip to Portland anyway.
"Worst case, he's suspended for one game," Rivers said. "I'm not going to bring him tomorrow anyway. I want Blake to stay home and get some rest. He's so banged-up."
Rivers was pleased to see his team improve on their previous regular-season record of 56 wins -- set last season before a first-round playoff exit -- but he said the real goal remains a title.
"I'm very happy that we're doing this stuff, but it's not what we want," he said.