They all knew that locking up home-court advantage for a first-round playoff series was in their sights, that all the Clippers had to do Sunday night was defeat a New Orleans Hornets team that's going nowhere.
But then the Clippers got down by 13 points in the fourth quarter and things looked tenuous.
That was until Chris Paul took the controls with help from Randy Foye, both of them coming up big in the fourth quarter, lifting the Clippers to a 107-98 victory over the Hornets.
All the Clippers have to do is win one of their last two games — at Atlanta on Tuesday or New York on Wednesday — and they will be the ones playing host to a first-round playoff series.
The Clippers are in this position because Paul had 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter Sunday, along with four of his 13 assists and five of his eight steals.
Foye had 11 of his 24 points in the final quarter.
"We control our own destiny," Paul said. "We know that and we understand that. We came out playing pretty good tonight. They hit a lot of shots. But a win is a win, no matter how it looks sometimes."
It looked like another most valuable player performance by Paul.
He was nine for nine from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter and 17 for 19 for the game.
His name now has been mentioned as an MVP candidate.
"It's all good and well," Paul said. "But I think it's more about our team. I was runner up in '07-'08. I'd rather have a championship than an MVP any day of the week."
The fourth-place Clippers are a half-game behind the third-place Lakers in the Western Conference standings and a game ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies.
With both teams having two regular-season games remaining, the Clippers are on a collision course to meet the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers won the season-series, 2-1, over Memphis, meaning they would have home-court advantage over the Grizzlies even if the two teams end the season with identical records.
The Clippers started out 0 for 13 from three-point range in the second half, but they kept shooting away.
Then they got back-to-back three-pointers from Foye, pulling the Clippers to within 91-90 with 4:05 left. Both of the three-pointers came off Paul assists.
His third three-pointer in the fourth gave the Clippers a 98-93 lead.
"When the ball came to me in the fourth quarter, it was wide open, so I had to take that shot," said Foye, who suffered tightness in his right thigh from getting kneed there.
"And it was just like repetition shots you take before the game, and I got into a good rhythm."
The Clippers lost Caron Butler to a left hip contusion in the first quarter when his back hit a cameraman while he was falling out of bounds. Butler, who didn't play the rest of the game, is listed as day to day.
Blake Griffin picked up his 12th technical foul of the season, one shy of being suspended for one game. The technical fouls count starts all over in the playoffs, however.
"I'm going to try to get that rescinded," said Griffin, who had 21 points and 15 rebounds despite playing with a stiff neck. "But we've got two games left, so I should be cool."