OAKLAND, Calif. -- To sneak into the playoffs after their fascinating, frustrating season, the Golden State Warriors know they'll need all kinds of breaks they probably don't deserve.
Yet they got two big ones on Saturday night -- and now they're hoping the Houston Rockets can help them a bit further along an improbable path to the postseason.
Monta Ellis and Al Harrington scored 17 points apiece for the Warriors, whose victory coupled with the Nuggets' 124-97 loss at Utah earlier in the night left Golden State and Denver tied for eighth place in the Western Conference standings at 48-32.
After the Nuggets seized the tiebreaker edge with a win at Golden State on Thursday night, the Warriors looked and felt finished. Yet if Denver loses Sunday night at home against the Rockets, who are fighting for a division title and home-court advantage, the Warriors incredibly will control their own postseason fate.
"We all need to call all our friends on the Rockets and tell them to go all-out tomorrow," Harrington said. "We need the whole Bay Area to root Houston on. We're all Rockets fans for a night."
By the time the Warriors play at Phoenix on Monday night, they'll know whether they have a decent chance for their second straight playoff berth. The Nuggets have games remaining against Houston and lowly Memphis, while Golden State finishes against the Suns and Seattle.
Harrington plans to gather his teammates at a sports bar in Arizona to watch the show. His coach would prefer not to agonize in public.
"I'm going to watch the game and have a few cocktails, that's my mind-set," Don Nelson said. "What should I be doing? Biting my fingernails? They're already gone."
Cuttino Mobley had 30 points and 10 rebounds as the Clippers lost their fifth straight game, including four in a row against playoff contenders. Last-place Los Angeles, which has lost 24 of 28 overall, finishes its worst campaign since 1999-2000 with road games against New Orleans and Houston.
"The season's tough, but that's what it is," Mobley said. "I can see if we had all of our guys and all of us were healthy and we lost, but it's life sometimes. Maybe next year we'll get blessed."
Al Thornton had 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Elton Brand added 21 points and 14 rebounds as the Clippers lost the season series with Golden State despite several late surges. Corey Maggette scored 22 points after missing the last two games with a strained hamstring.
"I hope they make it," Brand said of the Warriors. "I've got a lot of friends over there, so I'm rooting for them. I wasn't rooting for them tonight. I was trying to get a win, but now our game is done with, and I hope they make it."
The Warriors are assured of their best record since 1994, yet it still might not be enough for a playoff spot in this unusual year in the power-packed West. Golden State already has more victories than any team that has missed the playoffs since the league went to its current postseason format.
The knowledgeable Oakland crowd erupted in cheers and a chant of "Let's go, Warriors!" when the final score of the Nuggets' loss flashed on the scoreboard in the second quarter.
"The crowd wants to get to the playoffs, too," Jackson said. "If they could, they'd come down and play for us. The whole building started shaking when they showed that Denver score. That gave everybody a boost of energy."
The frantic pace of this contest proved the Warriors clearly won't change their breakneck style or their frequent defensive indifference, even with so much riding on their final games.
The Clippers have the NBA's second-worst shooting percentage on 3-pointers, yet the teams combined for 13 3-pointers in the first 15½ minutes, including four by Mobley. Golden State scored 42 points in the first quarter and opened up a 20-point lead, only to watch it dip to four midway through the second.
Although Golden State never trailed, the Clippers trimmed the lead to 93-92 with 14 consecutive points -- eight by Mobley -- spanning the third and fourth quarters. The Warriors replied with a 10-2 run, and after the Clippers crawled back within five points with 1:46 to play, Ellis and Jackson hit back-to-back layups to seal it.
|To have a shot at the playoffs, Baron Davis and the Warriors still need Denver to falter. (AP)|
|L.A. Clippers (23-57)||26||35||23||32||116|
|Golden State (48-32) «||42||26||25||29||122|
|LAC:C. Mobley 30 Pts
LAC:E. Brand 14 Reb
LAC:S. Parker 9 Ast
|GS:S. Jackson 28 Pts
GS:A. Biedrins 14 Reb
GS:B. Davis 9 Ast
|Players of the Game|
|Golden State||Los Angeles|
|C. Mobley, SG||45||13-24||0-0||10||3||3||30|
|A. Thornton, SF||43||8-16||9-11||11||5||3||25|
|E. Brand, PF||41||6-14||9-10||14||4||2||21|
|T. Thomas, PF||21||3-7||0-0||4||0||2||7|
|B. Knight, PG||20||0-4||0-0||2||2||1||0|
|C. Maggette, SF||30||5-14||10-15||7||1||3||22|
|S. Parker, PG||28||3-6||2-2||2||9||6||9|
|D. Dickau, PG||8||1-2||0-0||0||3||1||2|
|J. Powell, SF||4||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|S. Livingston, PG||Did Not Play|
|Q. Ross, SF||Did Not Play|
|C. Kaman, C||Did Not Play|
|P. Davis, C||Did Not Play|
|N. Fazekas, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Williams, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|M. Ellis, SG||46||6-12||5-6||4||7||0||17|
|B. Davis, PG||38||10-21||4-4||5||9||2||25|
|S. Jackson, SG||38||8-17||10-12||3||4||4||28|
|A. Harrington, PF||35||7-14||0-0||8||2||5||17|
|A. Biedrins, C||34||3-6||4-6||14||1||5||10|
|M. Pietrus, SF||23||4-7||0-0||6||0||5||11|
|K. Azubuike, SF||10||1-7||3-4||3||0||2||5|
|M. Belinelli, SG||8||2-3||1-2||1||1||1||5|
|A. Croshere, PF||4||1-2||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|P. O'Bryant, C||3||1-2||0-0||0||0||1||2|
|M. Barnes, SF||Did Not Play|
|K. Perovic, C||Did Not Play|
|B. Wright, SF||Did Not Play|
|C. Watson, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|