March 16, 2019 / 5:17 AM / 5 months ago

Clippers beat Bulls, strengthen hold on playoff spot

EditorsNote: fixes punctuation/typo in eighth graph, typo in ninth graph

Mar 15, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine (8) is defended by LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac (40) in the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Danilo Gallinari scored 27 points and the Los Angeles Clippers continued to better their playoff chances with a 128-121 win over the visiting Chicago Bulls on Friday night.

Montrezl Harrell scored 26 points off the bench and Lou Williams had 21 in a reserve role for the Clippers, who remain tied for eighth in the Western Conference with the Utah Jazz. Los Angeles also moved six games ahead of the ninth-place Sacramento Kings for the final playoff spot.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and fellow point guard Patrick Beverley finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles, which has won six of seven.

Zach LaVine returned after missing the past two games with a knee injury and finished with 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Bulls, who have lost four in a row and six of seven.

Robin Lopez added 22 points and eight rebounds, as all five starters scored in double figures for Chicago.

The Clippers trailed by six at the half, but began the third quarter with a 13-2 run to go ahead 70-65. Los Angeles took its first double-digit lead at 81-71 on a three-point play by Gallinari with 3:55 left in the quarter.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Chicago coach Jim Boylen were each ejected after exchanging words near the scorer’s table with 1:14 left in the third quarter and Los Angeles leading by 15.

The Clippers took a 102-84 lead into the fourth quarter, and the Bulls didn’t get within single digits until the final minute.

Beverley made a short jumper with eight seconds left in the first quarter to end an 8-0 run by Chicago and the Bulls took the 34-29 lead into the second quarter.

Chicago shot 60 percent from the floor in the opening quarter.

The Clippers caught back up with the Bulls two minutes into the second quarter and both sides traded leads until Chicago put together another strong finish to a quarter, outscoring Los Angeles 8-2 over the final 2:07 to take a 63-57 lead into the half.

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