Chris Paul hit a free throw with 18.3 seconds left, as the Los Angeles Clippers edged the Memphis Grizzlies 91-87 on Saturday night in a preview of a possible first-round playoff series.
The Clippers won their fifth straight overall and took the season series 3-1 for what could be a crucial tiebreaker, giving Los Angeles the home-court advantage in the postseason even though the teams now are tied at 54-26. That puts them both one half-game behind Denver for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers with 16 points, while Paul finished with 13, Blake Griffin had 12 and Willie Green 10.
Marc Gasol had 18 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists for Memphis. Zach Randolph finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Tayshaun Prince scored 13 and Mike Conley added 12 points and six assists.
The teams met in the first round last season, when the Clippers took Game 7 on the Grizzlies’ floor to win the series.
Memphis came in with a one-game lead over the Clippers for the chance to start the postseason with home-court advantage and had won seven of their last eight. The Grizzlies lost that edge when they went cold for a couple stretches in the fourth quarter, including the last 3 minutes and 33 seconds when they scored only on Zach Randolph’s fallaway jumper with 23.5 seconds left.
This game had all the intensity of the postseason with 15 ties, 10 lead changes and neither team leading by double digits.
The Clippers had their biggest advantage at nine in the fourth quarter, using a 14-0 run to take control of the game for good. Memphis whittled that down to one point twice down the stretch. After Paul split a pair of free throws with 18.3 seconds left, Conley tried to throw the ball into the post and Matt Barnes got the steal with 3.8 seconds left.
Two free throws by Jamal Crawford provided the final score.
In Orlando, Courtney Lee scored 20 points and Jeff Green added 17 as the Boston Celtics cruised to a 120-88 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The win locked up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference for Boston, who never trailed in winning their eighth straight over Orlando.
All five Celtics starters reached double figures, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce scoring 14 and 12 points respectively after resting on Friday against Miami.
Tobias Harris led the Magic with 22 points.
Elsewhere, the Charlotte Bobcats handed the Milwaukee Bucks their ninth straight road loss, 95-85, locking the Bucks into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, meaning that they will draw defending champions Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Also on Saturday, Ricky Rubio had a career-high 24 points, 10 assists and five steals, while J.J. Barea scored 16 points to lead Minnesota past Phoenix 105-93.
Kobe Bryant’s season is over after he suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
Bryant, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history, will undergo surgery on Saturday, the team said.
Bryant sustained the injury with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter.
He will miss any playoff action for the Lakers if they can hang on to secure the final berth in the Western Conference and may well miss a chunk of next season.
However, the 34-year-old was quick to dismiss talk of his career being under threat.
“Really, are you kidding?” he responded to reporters in the locker room. “Obviously, there’s a bunch of players that have had this same injury, so I know I can do this.”
The Lakers have recovered from a poor start to the season to push themselves into playoff contention, but their chances of making an impact will be sorely hurt by the loss of their leading player.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017