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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

In Brief: Jordan leads way for Clippers

Clippers center DeAndre Jordan makes one of his six blocks, stuffing Denver guard Emmanuel Mudiay in playoff-clinching win. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
From news services

NBA: At Los Angeles, each blocked shot by DeAndre Jordan got the Clippers a little bit closer to the postseason.

Jordan had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and his six blocked shots set the tone while the Clippers beat the Denver Nuggets 105-90 on Sunday to become the fourth Western Conference team to clinch a playoff spot.

“He’s one of the better rim protectors in the NBA,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “And for every shot he doesn’t block, he has guys hesitating. I thought we got very passive tonight once he blocked a couple of shots.”

Jordan had four pivotal blocks for the Clippers during a decisive third quarter. Los Angeles outscored Denver 25-12 and led 77-60 heading into the fourth.

“This team dominated us in the paint the last time we played them,” Jordan said. “That was a big emphasis for us, to protect our paint, and limit those guys to one shot, try to keep their second-chance points low.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was particularly impressed that Jordan blocked two shots against the player he was already defending.

“That’s hard to do,” Rivers said. “When you are blocking the weak side, we need him to do that every night. When you start blocking your own guy’s shot, you are really locked in, and I thought he did that today.”

Chris Paul added 14 points, six rebounds and nine assists. Jamal Crawford also had 14 points, Jeff Green and Wesley Johnson each had 13 and J.J. Redick had 12.

The Clippers had a 25-8 edge in fast-break points, which was also a credit to Jordan’s presence inside.

“He’s our energy guy, the captain of our defense,” Paul Pierce said. “He gets the rebounds obviously, but we have been going to him a little bit more in the post on offense. He’s starting to fulfill a lot of his potential. He is still young and still has a lot of room to grow. He’s showing that he can keep getting better and better.”

Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who has not played since December, practiced with the Clippers on Saturday. He was cleared by the team’s doctor before the Denver game, then sat out to begin serving a four-game suspension for punching their assistant equipment manager.

“He looked great, but he had no endurance, as far as his wind,” Rivers said. “As far as just playing basketball, he was terrific. It’s amazing, though, watching what three months does as far as memory goes. As far as sets and timing, that wasn’t pretty.”

Griffin becomes eligible to play again on April 3 against Washington.

Griffin has averaged 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 30 games this season.

Thompson scores 40 again: Klay Thompson scored 40 points in consecutive games for the first time in his career, Draymond Green posted his franchise-best 12th triple-double and Golden State beat visiting Philadelphia 117-105.

Stephen Curry had 20 points and eight assists and Green contributed 13 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists as Golden State (66-7) stayed a game ahead of the pace set by the 1995-96 Bulls’ during their record 72-win season.

Pitt hires Stallings away from Vanderbilt

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Kevin Stallings abruptly left Vanderbilt for Pittsburgh, trading a program that spent most of his tenure in the muddled middle of the SEC for one trying to forge a new identity in the stacked ACC after Jamie Dixon bolted last week for TCU.

“Coach Stallings and I share the same vision for Pitt – playing in the Final Four,” Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said.

Stallings is 455-283 with nine appearances in the NCAAs while at Illinois State and Vanderbilt.

Yet sustained success, particularly in March, has proven elusive. Vanderbilt started this season ranked 18th and moved as high as 16th but finished 19-14 after getting blown out by Wichita State in the opening round of the tournament, the fourth time in Vanderbilt’s last five NCAA trips it failed to win a single game.

Columbia, UC Irvine in CIT finals: Moado Lo scored a season-high 29, on 11-of-18 shooting, with six assists, three steals and two blocked shots to help Columbia (23-10) to an 80-65 win over NJIT (20-15) in the semifinals of the College Tournament.

The Lions will host UC Irvine in the championship on Tuesday.

The Anteaters (28-9) got 15 points from Luke Nelson and held Coast Carolina (21-12) to 27 percent shooting to beat the Chanticleers 66-47 in Conway, South Carolina.

Denver, Quinnipiac fill out Frozen Four

MISCELLANY: Blake Hillman broke a tie with 4:32 left and Denver beat Ferris State 6-3 in the NCAA West Regional hockey final in St. Paul, Minnesota, to advance to the Frozen Four.

Nolan Zajac added another goal 25 seconds later, and Quentin Shore capped the scoring spree on a power-play with 2:27 left.

Denver will face North Dakota in the national semifinals April 7 in Tampa, Florida. The Pioneers advanced to their 14th Frozen Four.

Quinnipiac, the top overall seed, beat UMass Lowell 4-1 in the East Regional in Albany, New York, and will meet Boston College.

Fans unruly in Kenya: Kenya faces sanctions for a riot that stopped play for more than 30 minutes and forced police to fire tear gas into the stands to get angry fans out of the stadium in an African Cup of Nations soccer qualifier against Guinea Bissau.

Kenyan fans threw stones and other missiles at the Guinea Bissau bench, and at the fourth official on the sidelines, following a disputed goal for the visitors at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi. Guinea Bissau won 1-0 to give Kenya little chance of qualifying for next year’s African Cup.

The trouble started when Zimbabwean referee Norman Matemela awarded the winning goal to Guinea Bissau in the 81st minute, despite protests from Kenya players that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.