Clippers contend for top spot

The Los Angeles Clippers are rolling toward their first playoff berth in six seasons, but they’re seeking a loftier goal.

The surging Clippers, in contention for the first division title in franchise history, will try for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Oklahoma City Thunder in less than week Monday night.

Los Angeles (37-23) has won 11 of 13, including a 100-98 victory at Oklahoma City on Wednesday. The Clippers kept rolling Saturday, beating Golden State 112-104 for their third straight win.

Chris Paul scored 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and had 13 assists against the Warriors.

“It’s all about locking up a playoff spot. You got to get in,” Paul said. “Anything can happen when you get to the playoffs. The sky’s the limit. When we play the way we’re capable of playing, we’ve already beaten some of the best teams in the league.”

The Clippers point guard secured one of those victories by making a go-ahead layup with 8.8 seconds left and scoring 31 points against the Thunder (44-16) on Wednesday. That win started Los Angeles’ current streak as the club looks to overtake the Lakers in the Pacific Division.

“We would love to win the division,” Paul said. “In order to do that, we would need to win out.”

In the first of its final two home games, the Clippers will try to clinch a playoff berth by taking the season series with Oklahoma City. Los Angeles can also wrap up its first trip to the postseason since 2005-06 if Phoenix loses to Portland on Monday.

Paul will try to help with another strong performance against the Thunder. He had a team-best 26 points and 14 assists in a 112-100 victory at Staples Center on Jan. 30, though he struggled in a 114-91 loss at Oklahoma City on March 21, going 3 for 12 from the field and scoring 13 points.

Blake Griffin and Caron Butler chipped in 22 points apiece in that game, and Griffin’s nine baskets included a much-replayed dunk over Kendrick Perkins.

Thunder star Kevin Durant scored 36 points in the contest and Russell Westbrook had 31, but Daequan Cook was the only other Oklahoma City player in double figures with 12 points.

The high-scoring duo of Durant and Westbrook didn’t need much help Saturday during a 115-110 victory in Minnesota, the Thunder’s fourth in five games. Durant had 43 points and Westbrook added 35, with Nick Collison as their only teammate in double figures with 10 points.

The victory kept the Thunder one game ahead of San Antonio in the West.

“We want to win as much games as we can going down to the stretch of the season,” Durant said. “Hopefully we get (the No. 1 seed). If not, we’ve just got to keep playing. We can’t worry about that. We’ve just got to worry about how we can get better every single game.”

Durant went 7 of 21 and scored 22 points against the Clippers on Wednesday while Westbrook was 3 of 14. Durant had topped 30 points in each of his last two games against Los Angeles.

Griffin was held to a career-low seven points in that game and has totaled 23 in the past two matchups with Oklahoma City. The All-Star forward, however, has scored 48 points over the past two home meetings.

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