Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 203)
The Los Angeles Clippers attempt to finish off a four-game season sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers as well as clinch the Pacific Division title when the teams square off at the Staples Center on Sunday afternoon. The Clippers will sew up their first division crown with either their next victory or Golden State’s next loss. The Lakers are a half-game ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Lakers have won three consecutive games after edging the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Utah holds the tiebreaker edge so Los Angeles has to win one more game than the Jazz to claim the postseason berth. The Clippers had lost four of five games before posting a 126-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. They are battling Denver and Memphis for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and also trying to regain their earlier form that saw him rattle off 17 consecutive wins. “We’re going to have to up our level of play here at the end of the season and there’s a responsibility that goes with that for everybody,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
ABOUT THE LAKERS (40-36): The fear of missing the playoffs has fueled a solid late-season run that has seen Los Angeles go 23-11 since being eight games under .500 in late January. Guard Kobe Bryant has challenged his teammates with both his play and his words and the supporting class received the messages. “These are must-win games and I don’t want to go home,” forward Earl Clark said after the Memphis victory. “I want to make the playoffs. I don’t want to be on the Laker team that didn’t make it to the playoffs. I don’t want to be remembered that way.” Clark is averaging 15 points and 8.5 rebounds over the last two games.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (50-26): Forward Blake Griffin has been battling a calf injury that has hindered his production. Griffin is averaging just 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds over the past eight games and collected just 13 total rebounds in the last three outings. Griffin has just one double-digit outing on the boards in 12 games. “Blake’s had a softball in his calf for seven games or eight games or whatever it is,” Del Negro said. “He’s been battling through that.” The Clippers last played Wednesday and Griffin was given plenty of rest in the three-day span with no games.
* Lakers are 1-4 ATS in their last five road games.
* Over is 6-1 in Clippers’ last seven overall.
* Over is 8-0 in the last eight meetings.
* Favorite is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
1. The Clippers routed the Lakers 125-101 on Feb. 14 after winning the first two meetings by a combined 15 points.
2. Clippers PG Chris Paul is averaging 24 points and 13.7 assists in the three wins over the Lakers.
3. Bryant has missed all 15 of his 3-point attempts over the past four games.