LOS ANGELES (AP)—Win or go home. That’s the attitude the Los Angeles Clippers are playing with these days.
Cuttino Mobley had 22 points, six rebounds and seven assists, Elton Brand added 20 points and seven rebounds, and the Clippers took command early in beating the Portland Trail Blazers 107-89 on Friday night for their ninth win in 13 games.
Corey Maggette and Chris Kaman scored 17 points apiece for the Clippers (39-40), who remained tied with Golden State for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference with three games remaining.
Both teams moved within a half-game of the Lakers (40-40), who have two left.
Since the Clippers hold the tiebreaker over Golden State, they can clinch a playoff berth by winning out.
“If we win, everything will take care of itself,” Mobley said. “We’re just trying our best to get in. We get in, we’ll make some noise. The next three games are huge.”
The Clippers finish with a home game against Sacramento on Sunday, a game at Phoenix on Tuesday night and a home game against New Orleans on Wednesday night.
“This is up to us. We don’t expect any of them to lose,” Brand said, referring to the Warriors and Lakers. “I’m disappointed we’re in the situation that we are in now. We can’t look back—we have to win. We need to go 3-0.”
The Clippers were coming off an emotional 118-110 victory over the Lakers on Thursday night in a game they won by outscoring their crosstown rivals 26-8 down the stretch.
The game was also the Clippers’ fourth in five nights.
Brand acknowledged that a letdown was a concern, but added: “Coach quelled that right away. We were really ready, got up 13, held the lead.”
Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy canceled the team’s morning shootaround, instead having his players report to Staples Center three hours before the opening tip.
“We did basically what we had to do,” he said. “Bottom line is, like I said earlier, we can’t rely on anyone else to do our business for us. We just have to win and as long as we do that, we don’t have to worry about anything.
“I knew our effort would be there. As long as we were executing and making shots, then we had a pretty good chance. I thought our guys did what they had to do for 48 minutes.”
Rookie Brandon Roy, playing despite a swollen right knee and tendinitis in his left knee, had 18 points and six rebounds for the Blazers, who have lost eight of their last 10 games, including four straight. He came out for good just 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Roy said he probably won’t play Saturday night against Seattle, and might sit out the Blazers’ final three games.
“I was a little sore tonight. Coach might shut it down,” said Roy, a leading candidate for rookie of the year honors.
“We’ll see how he feels in the morning,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said.
Travis Outlaw added 14 points and Martell Webster scored 10 for the Blazers (31-48), who had only 10 players in uniform. Among those sidelined are leading scorer and rebounder Zach Randolph and standout rookie LaMarcus Aldridge.
The game was decided at the foul line, where the Clippers shot 35-of-40 and the Blazers were 16-of-23. Portland went 35-of-76 from the floor while Los Angeles was 34-of-64.
“They just wore us out,” Roy said. “They’re a good team and they’re playing for something.”
The Clippers, who never trailed, led by 27 points early in the fourth quarter before the Blazers went on a 13-4 run to draw within 18 midway through the period. That’s as close as they would get.
“We didn’t have that fire that we usually have in most games,” McMillan said. “It didn’t feel like we were here tonight. The effort was not there. It was like we were in slow motion.”
The Clippers outscored the Blazers 16-7 to snap a 10-all tie and go ahead for good. They led 50-37 at halftime and 80-58 entering the final period.
The win was the eighth straight for the Clippers over the Blazers in Los Angeles, and their seventh in the past eight games between the teams. … The Blazers are 2-5 since Randolph went out. He averaged 23.6 points and 10.1 rebounds in 68 games. … The Clippers have won the season series with Portland in each of the past two years, but have done so only three times in the 37-year history of the rivalry. … Clippers G Sam Cassell picked up two technical fouls with 4:16 to play and was ejected. He had eight points in 17 minutes.