Atlanta 109, L.A. Clippers 102
Location – Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Officials – #27 Dick Bavetta, #55 Bill Kennedy, #31 Scott Wall
Attendance – 18223
Clippers and Hawks 109, 102: Joe Johnson poured in 28 points as Atlanta held off visiting Los Angeles to bolster its chances of earning home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
Johnson knocked down six 3-pointers to pace the fifth-place Hawks (39-26) who need a win Thursday against the Dallas Mavericks or a Boston Celtics loss Thursday to Milwaukee to earn the right to host Game 1 against the fourth-seeded Celtics when the postseason kicks off this weekend.
Jeff Teague chipped in 21 points while Josh Smith added 18 points and ten rebounds for the Hawks.
Blake Griffin had a season-high 36 points and Chris Paul added 34 for the Clippers (40-25), whose defeat clinched the rival Lakers the Pacific Division title.
After trailing for most of the third quarter, the Clippers drew even on a short Griffin hook shot with 3:41 remaining. The Hawks stormed back ahead on the strength of seven straight points from Teague, who added a block of a Paul layup during that stretch to keep Los Angeles at bay.
Teague, Johnson and Josh Smith combined to score 26 third-quarter points as Atlanta jumped out to an 85-72 advantage entering the fourth.
The Clippers closed to within six on a Mo Williams basket with 4:20 remaining, but Johnson responded with a 3-pointer that made it 100-91, and the Clippers didn’t challenge the rest of the way.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The Clippers need a win in their season finale against the New York Knicks or the Memphis Grizzlies losing Wednesday or Thursday to secure home-court against the Grizzlies in round one Paul has attempted 30 free throws over the last two games, making 27. … Johnson has connected on 13 of 17 3-point attempts over his previous three games.
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