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Warriors-Clippers Preview

AP - Sports

Entrenched in a tight playoff race, Blake Griffin is fully aware of possible playoff scenarios, but realizes the most important thing is simply that the Los Angeles Clippers win.

They haven't done a good job of that, however, against the lowly Golden State Warriors.

Winners of 10 of 12, the surging Clippers look to inch closer to securing their first playoff berth in six years Saturday when they host a Warriors team that has lost 10 of 12.

Los Angeles (36-23) is getting healthy and playing some of its best basketball as it gears up for its first postseason appearance since 2006.

Mo Williams returned Thursday against Minnesota after missing 11 games with a left big toe injury and finished with 14 points and five assists in a 95-82 victory. Griffin had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Caron Butler scored 17 for the Clippers, who are chasing the Pacific Division-leading Lakers and 1 1/2 games ahead of Memphis for fourth place in the Western Conference.

"You definitely know what the team ahead of you and behind you are doing," Griffin said. "Our main focus though is still trying to win games. Whatever happens behind us and ahead of us happens. The only thing we can control is ourselves."

The Clippers beat the Warriors 105-86 on Christmas Day in Chris Paul's team debut, but have lost both meetings since. In the last game March 11, Los Angeles trailed by as many as 21 and missed 16 of 35 free throws in a 97-93 loss.

Golden State's David Lee has done a solid job of keeping Griffin in check and offsetting his production. In the three meetings, Griffin is averaging 23.3 points on 53.3 percent shooting and 9.3 rebounds, while Lee is averaging 21.0 points on 53.1 percent shooting and 11.7 boards.

Paul is averaging 22.3 points on 52.2 percent shooting in the season series for Los Angeles, which has won eight of nine home games.

One advantage the Clippers may have this time is not worrying about stopping Monta Ellis, who has since been traded to Milwaukee. He combined for 53 points on 50.0 percent shooting in the two wins for the Warriors.

The Clippers' offense also struggled a bit in the last two meetings, but might have luck better this time considering how Golden State's defense is playing.

The Warriors (22-36), who are already eliminated from playoff contention, have allowed an average of 117.7 points in losing their last three games and are 6-26 when letting opponents reach triple digits.

"We gave up over 100 points in the last three games and that's inexcusable," rookie Klay Thompson said after Thursday's 112-103 loss to Dallas. "Play harder, have more focus, take pride in our defense, take pride when somebody scores on you and get offended. That's what we need to do."

Thompson had another impressive offensive performance Thursday, finishing with 24 points and a season-best eight assists. Inserted into the starting lineup after Ellis was traded, Thompson is averaging 18.2 points on 50.0 percent shooting - including 57.7 percent from 3-point range - in the last five games.

The Warriors, though, have lost four of those contests and 15 of 19 over the last month.

"When you play the best you can - the game gets so close and then it gets away from us. It's frustrating," rookie point guard Charles Jenkins said. "It doesn't matter how many games are left you want to win as a competitor."

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