Bryant to make one last stand against Clips?

 Bryant to make one last stand vs. Clips?

Having locked themselves into the fourth seed in the Western Conference, the Clippers can focus on a singular task tonight: spoiling Kobe Bryant’s penultimate home game.

Beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET, Doc Rivers’ squad will pursue its 11th straight victory in the series and a sweep of back-to-back matchups. Oddsmakers don’t expect the Lakers to provide much resistance. According to online sports book Bovada.lv, this evening’s host team is a 9.5-point underdog.

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The Clips gave their Staples Center roommates the business, 103-81, roughly 24 hours ago. Point guard Chris Paul poured in 25 points, while Jeff Green added 21 off the bench. The Pacific Division’s second-place outfield shot 51.3 percent from the field, collecting assists on 26 of 40 successful field-goal attempts.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of the greatest to ever lace up sneakers continued his limp to the finish line. Bryant finished with six points on 2-of-12 shooting in his last effort as a visiting player at the arena. One wonders if No. 24 is capable of mustering one final stand against the organization that he used to abuse with regularity.

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Of course, it’s hard to anticipate how Rivers will approach this affair. With no chance of chasing down Oklahoma City now, additional rest would benefit individuals Paul, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Reddick. Nonetheless, it’s equally important to get Blake Griffin (10 points in two contests since returning from injuries and a suspension) up to speed with the regular rotation.

In the end, we’re probably talking about a split-the-difference sort of scenario. There’s little question about the Clippers’ ability to reach the 50-victory plateau tonight, but the Lakers could muddy the picture. Your move, Kobe, for one of the last times.

WEDNESDAY NBA FREE PICK: LAKERS +9.5

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