The Los Angeles Clippers were hoping their game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday (April 9) would be an opportunity to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Instead, those hopes came to an end after a 134-115 loss to the Denver Nuggets (45-35) on Saturday, which eliminated the Clippers (42-38) from playoff contention with two games left in the regular season.
It will be the first time Los Angeles has missed out on the postseason since the 2010-11 season.
Despite having nothing to play for, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he will attempt to convince his starters to play against New Orleans on Monday because he believes in “protecting the integrity” of the league.
Doc Rivers on “protecting the league” and plan to play spoiler against the Pelicans Monday pic.twitter.com/EgDI0tOTAd
— [?] [?] Law Murray! (@LawMurrayTheNU) April 7, 2018
“We have two games left and I don’t even know how I’m going to approach those games,” Rivers told reporters. “I may play all the starters, I may play all the young guys and just let them get minutes. I think I have to play the guys against New Orleans, honestly. I think we really have to go after that game. I just believe in protecting the league. That’s what we should do, and I hope we do that.”
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who had 16 points and 17 rebounds in Saturday’s loss, has been dealing with an ankle injury, but Rivers didn’t say if he would play on Monday or not.
“(Jordan) has been laboring with his ankle for a month, nobody knew that. We didn’t want to share that with anybody,” Rivers said. “I’m going to try to get them all to play.”
The one player that Rivers did say would likely sit out was shooting guard Lou Williams, who is also dealing with an ankle injury.
He rolled his ankle in a loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday, and he played through it against the Nuggets on Saturday, finishing with 24 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
“He was iffy going into (Saturday) and he just said, ‘I want to go and see what I can do,'” River said. “My guess is no (Williams) next game, but I’m going to try to get them all to play. I think we’ve got to try to protect the integrity (of the league) and make it hard for the Pelicans to get in.”
The Pelicans (46-34) would clinch their first trip to the playoffs since the 2014-15 season with a win over the Clippers. New Orleans concludes the regular season with a game at home against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. A win in that game would also clinch the Pelicans’ spot.
New Orleans has beat the Clippers in two of the first three meetings between the clubs this season, with the last matchup ending in a 121-116 victory by the Pelicans at Staples Center.
Pelicans’ All-Star Anthony Davis had 41 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and four blocks. Jrue Holiday had 19 points and a career-high 17 assists.
Monday’s tilt will be the Pelicans’ final road game of the regular season, and it will bring an end to their current three-game road trip.
New Orleans picked up victories in the first two games of the trip, including a 126-120 victory over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on Saturday night.
It snapped the Pelicans’ 10-game losing streak against the defending champs and gave them their first win at Oracle Arena since 2012.
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