Clippers end regular season with loss to Houston

John Panganiban - The Sporting Tribune
Los Angeles rested its starters for the final home game in Arena before the team moves to Intuit Dome.

LOS ANGELES — The Clippers, who rested their veterans Sunday, wrapped up the regular season by falling to the Houston Rockets, 116-105.

The Clippers, who won the Pacific Division title and the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, are headed to the playoffs, where they’ll face the fifth-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round. 

Coach Tyronn Lue opted to rest Paul George and Ivica Zubac and key reserves Norman Powell, Russell Westbrook and Bones Hyland. Kawhi Leonard and James Harden were the only Clippers listed with injuries.

Amir Coffey scored 18 points, Daniel Theis added 16 points and 11 rebounds, Brandon Boston Jr. had 15 points and Xavier Moon finished with a season-high 14 for the Clippers.

“We have Dallas. And we’re ready for Dallas,” said assistant coach Dan Craig, who ran the team Sunday.

Turning point: Both the Rockets and Clippers relied on their reserves for much of the game as Sunday’s matchup did not have any postseason implications. 

The Clippers trailed 105-102 with over three minutes remaining, but Houston went on a 14-0 run that sealed the season-finale win.

LA was outscored by Houston 68-54 in the second half. The Rockets responded in the third quarter by shooting 57.1% from the field for the 85-83 lead into the fourth.

What it means: Sunday’s afternoon game closes out the Clippers franchise’s 25-season run in Arena. It was the team’s last-regular season game before moving to Inglewood. 

The Clippers (51-31) had nearly identical home and away splits, as the team was 25-16 on the road and 26-15 at

Misses: Leonard missed his eighth straight game Sunday with right knee inflammation. The Clippers went 4-4 in his absence during that stretch. 

It’s still unclear when the Clippers’ star will return, according to Lue, who only shared that Leonard has “been doing a little something”.

The Southern California native has one week to get back into shape before playoffs begin next weekend.

Hits: Terance Mann, the only regular starter to play Sunday, led LA with a season-high 24 points. Mann also shot 10 for 14 from the field while collecting six rebounds for the Clippers.

Up next: The Mavericks are scheduled to open the first-round series April 21 at Arena. It’s the third time in the past five years that teams have faced off in the first round.

The Mavericks (50-32) ended regular season play 25-16 on the road and 7-3 in their final 10 games.