Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers  (Getty Pictures by way of AFP)

LOS ANGELES – Kawhi Leonard scored 27 factors and Norman Powell added 23 off the bench because the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Portland Path Blazers 136-125 to edge nearer to an NBA playoff berth on Saturday.

The Clippers moved into fifth place within the Western Convention with the identical report as reigning champions Golden State.

However their struggle to keep away from the play-in for the seventh- by way of Tenth-placed groups will come all the way down to the ultimate day of the common season on Sunday, when each NBA group will likely be in motion.

“We began a bit sluggish,” heart Ivica Zubac mentioned of the Clippers, who trailed Portland by as many as 10 earlier than reducing the deficit to 6 at halftime.

“We knew we needed to decide it up, we wanted a win so we got here out with a variety of vitality and we received the job completed.”

Leonard scored 13 factors within the third quarter because the Clippers got here alive, out-scoring the Blazers 45-26 to grab management.

They made eight of their 12 three-pointers within the third, then pushed the result in as many as 19 within the fourth.

The Clippers win ensured that the Minnesota Timberwolves will likely be among the many 4 play-in groups battling for 2 playoff spots, even after Minnesota’s monster 151-131 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Los Angeles, in the meantime, will attempt to affirm their playoff berth with a win over the fourth-placed Phoenix Suns on Sunday in what may very well be a first-round sequence preview.

The Timberwolves drilled a season-high 24 three-pointers and set a franchise report for factors scored of their win over San Antonio.

Anthony Edwards made 4 three-pointers and scored a game-high 33 factors.

Karl-Anthony Cities added 22 factors for the T’wolves, who can end no worse than ninth and will transfer up in the event that they beat eighth-placed New Orleans of their regular-season finale on Sunday.

The Pelicans will likely be on the lookout for a win in that sport to maintain the strain on the seventh-placed Lakers, who shut the regular-season in opposition to Utah.

Delicate steadiness

Denver who had already locked up the highest seed within the West for the primary time, fell 118-114 to the Utah Jazz in a contest that Nuggets coach Michael Malone acknowledged was a balancing act between preserving his gamers, together with two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, sharp and letting them danger harm.

“Primary is just not getting damage,” Malone mentioned of his group’s goals earlier than the sport. “It’s such a fragile steadiness. Nikola’s performed in considered one of our final 5 video games now. Jamal (Murray) has been out with a thumb.

“On one stage I’d like to get our beginning group some actual minutes collectively. The flip facet is you don’t need anyone getting damage.”

Ochai Agbaji scored 28 factors to guide the Jazz and Luka Samanic scored a career-high 23 factors,

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 21 for the Nuggets. Murray added 20 factors whereas Jokic had six factors with 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Two days in spite of everything 5 of Denver’s starters sat out a loss to Phoenix, the Nuggets received off to a sluggish begin and trailed by as many as 19 within the first half.

They missed seven of their first eight shot makes an attempt, however had lower the deficit to 58-55 at halftime, and surged to the lead late within the third quarter.

However with Denver’s starters on the bench within the fourth, Utah rallied.


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