LOS ANGELES — Trailing by six, the Clippers huddled during a timeout and told themselves they were going to win.
They went out and did just that, scoring 20 points in a span of 3:25 to beat the Denver Nuggets 110-103 Monday night. The Clippers moved into a three-way tie with San Antonio and Houston for the No. 2 playoff seed in the West. They also clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"There's nobody that's not good in the West," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "You're going to have a tough series. The teams that embrace that are going to do well and the ones that don't are going to be out early."
The Clippers were out of it in the first half, when Denver led most of the way and was up by three at the break. The Clippers' defense came alive in the second half, and they got several stops in a row to shut down the Nuggets over the final 3 ½ minutes of the game.
"One thing I love about this team is we've shown ability to just close out games," Rivers said. "That's good to have.
Blake Griffin scored 22 points, DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 21 rebounds — making a pair of clutch free throws with 2:49 to go — and J.J. Redick scored 20 points in the Clippers' sixth straight win. Griffin just missed a triple-double, finishing with nine rebounds and eight assists.
"It was down to our team defense," Redick said. "We locked them up. We had to win this game."
The Clippers could end up with the second, third or fifth seeds in the West. They play at Phoenix on Tuesday night and then wait to find out their playoff opponent while the rest of the league ends the regular season Wednesday.
"I think people are kind of overlooking them because the West is so good," Nuggets coach Melvin Hunt said.
Wilson Chandler scored a season-high 32 points and Kenneth Faried added 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have 51 losses and won't be making the playoffs.
"We didn't execute right at the end and they did," said Chandler, who came up three points short of tying his career high. "They made defensive stops and made big plays on the offensive end."
Chris Paul added 17 points for the Clippers, who closed the game on a 20-7 run after being down by six with under six minutes to go. Paul had nine points in the spurt.
"The first half we were being very lackadaisical," he said. "The second half we cleaned it up."
Faried gave the Nuggets their last lead, 97-96, on a free throw in the midst of the Clippers' run.
Chandler hit his sixth 3-pointer, pushing Denver's lead to 96-90. The teams went two minutes without scoring before the Clippers ran off six straight on three-point plays by Griffin and Jamal Crawford to tie it.
"We tried everything in the gun," Hunt said. "We shot every bullet. Just came up a little short."
The Nuggets have dropped four in a row on the road and six of their last eight.
Jordan's basket in the third period gave the Clippers their first lead, 74-73, since the opening quarter. It was part of a 13-8 run that ended the period with them leading 83-78. Jordan had eight points and Glen Davis added four.
Denver led by eight in the second quarter before the Clippers closed to 57-54 at halftime.
Nuggets: G Ty Lawson rested and so did F Danilo Gallinari, who typically does in the second of back-to-back games. ... Reserve G Jameer Nelson missed his fourth straight game with a right hip flexor strain.
Clippers: Paul is a game away from playing in all 82 regular-season games for the first time in his career. "I do feel like it's a big accomplishment." ... G Jamal Crawford thanked the fans during on-court comments before tipoff. "We feel good knowing we have you guys' support," he said. "You guys never waver."
Knowing they will play the majority of their first-round games at Staples Center gave the Clippers a boost.
"That is huge," Crawford said. "The fans have been there through good and bad times. I think they can help push us to the next level, so that is good for us."
Nuggets: at Golden State on Wednesday to end season.
Clippers: at Phoenix on Tuesday to end regular season.
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