Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (L) dunks the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies. (Mike Brown / EPA )
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Clippers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 91-87, by meeting the challenge of what was at stake for both teams.
By winning their fifth consecutive game, the Clippers clinched the season series against Memphis, three games to one, and now need only to win their last two games to be assured of having home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers and Grizzlies have the same record, 54-26. But because the Clippers are Pacific Division champions, they occupy the fourth-seeded position in the Western Conference, ahead of fifth-seeded Memphis, and own the tiebreaker that determines home-court advantage if the teams meet in the playoffs.
Not only that, but the Clippers now are just half a game behind the third-seeded Denver Nuggets, as are the Grizzlies.
“I just felt we played hard,” Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “It could have gone either way, as most of the games against them do. We were able to make the biggest plays.”
DeAndre Jordan met the challenge by producing a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Clippers center also had three blocked shots.
Chris Paul had 13 points, Blake Griffin scored 12 and the Clippers' bench had 40 points.
Still, it took all the Clippers had to get past the Grizzlies.
Paul missed a long three-point shot to beat the 24-second clock, but Eric Bledsoe hustled and beat Zach Randolph to the offensive rebound.
Paul missed a runner in the lane and Matt Barnes fouled Tony Allen at the other end with 1:53 to play.
Allen missed both free throws.
But then Paul dribbled too much and got a 24-second violation with 1:29 left and shot an airball.
Randolph scored to cut the Clippers' lead to 88-87.
Paul then made one of two free throws for an 89-87 Clippers lead with 18.3 seconds left.
The Clippers needed a defensive stop, and they got one when Jordan blocked Mike Conley's shot out of bounds with 12.4 seconds left.
Now the Clippers needed another stop.
They got it again when Griffin tipped away a pass intended down low for Randolph.
“I saw them swing he ball for Conley and I kind of knew he was coming inside so I just worked my way around,” Griffin said. “I was fortunate to get my hand on it.”
Barnes threw the ball ahead to a sprinting Griffin, who was fouled with 3.8 seconds left.
The officials reviewed the play and called a clear-path foul on Jerryd Bayless, meaning Griffin got two free throws and the Clippers got the ball back.
They needed it after Griffin missed both free throws, leaving the Clippers ahead 89-87, but still with the basketball.
Then Jamal Crawford finished off the Grizzlies by making two free throws for the final margin.
“It was a very big win,” Griffin said. “We kind of talked about it all week and we got asked about it, how big this game was.
“We came out and took care of business.”