Chris Paul hit a free throw with 18.3 seconds left, and the Los Angeles Clippers edged the Memphis Grizzlies 91-87 on Saturday in a preview of a possible first-round playoff series.
The Clippers won their fifth straight overall and took the season series 3-1 for what could be a crucial tiebreaker giving Los Angeles home-court advantage in the postseason even though the teams now are tied at 54-26. That puts them both one-half game behind Denver for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
DeAndre Jordan led the Clippers with 16 points. Paul finished with 13, Blake Griffin had 12 and Willie Green 10.
Marc Gasol had 18 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists for Memphis. Zach Randolph finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Tayshaun Prince scored 13, and Mike Conley added 12 points and six assists.
These teams met in the first round last season, and the Clippers took Game 7 on the Grizzlies' floor to win the series.
Memphis came in with a one-game lead over the Clippers for the chance to start the postseason with home-court advantage and had won seven of its last eight. The Grizzlies lost that edge when they went cold for a couple stretches in the fourth quarter, including the last 3:33 when they scored only on Zach Randolph's fallaway jumper with 23.5 seconds left.
This game had all the intensity of the postseason with 15 ties, 10 lead changes and neither team leading by double digits.
The Clippers had their biggest advantage at nine in the fourth quarter, using a 14-0 run to take control of the game for good. Memphis whittled that down to one point twice down the stretch. After Paul split a pair of free throws with 18.3 seconds left, Conley tried to throw the ball into the post and Matt Barnes got the steal with 3.8 seconds left.
Two free throws by Jamal Crawford provided the final score.
In Orlando, Courtney Lee scored 20 points and Jeff Green added 17 as the Boston Celtics cruised to a 120-88 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The win locked up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference for Boston, which never trailed in winning its eighth straight over Orlando.
All five Celtics starters reached double figures, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce scoring 14 and 12 points, respectively, after resting Friday against Miami.
Tobias Harris led the Magic with 22 points.
Elsewhere, the Charlotte Bobcats handed the Milwaukee Bucks its ninth straight road loss, 95-85, locking the Bucks into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, meaning they'll draw the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Also Saturday, Ricky Rubio had a career-high 24 points, 10 assists and five steals, and J.J. Barea scored 16 points to lead Minnesota past Phoenix, 105-93.