Kings defeat Clippers 109-95 with Domantas Sabonis' 22 points and 20 rebounds.

Sacramento — Domantas Sabonis had 22 points, 20 rebounds, and nine assists as the Sacramento Kings defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 109-95 on Tuesday.

The Kings closed within one game of sixth-place New Orleans in the Western Conference to avoid the play-ins. Sacramento (44-31) is knotted with Phoenix with seven games left, including a four-game trip starting Thursday in New York.

Fourth-place Clippers in West. Sac kept the Clippers under 100 points for the fifth time this season. “This is how you win in the playoffs,” Kings coach Mike Brown said. "You don't win playoffs averaging 125 points a game and think that's how."

De'Aaron Fox had 20 points and seven assists for the Kings, and Keegan Murray had 19. “We were aggressive,” forward Trey Lyles said. “We chatted. Covering for each other. Getting their shooters. Tonight, we followed the game plan exactly. When we can do it, we're hard to score on as five guys.”

Guard Davion Mitchell said the Kings welcomed physical defense. They blitzed James Harden, who had six points on 1-of-7 shooting, forcing him right. After 41 points in Sunday's win at Charlotte, Paul George scored 18 on 5-for-12 shooting. We’re just getting ready for the playoffs,” Mitchell added.

A painful right knee kept Kawhi Leonard out of the game for LA. After playing Sunday, Leonard flew back to Los Angeles for treatment. Coach Tyronn Lue thinks he will play Thursday against West-leading Denver. Westbrook led the Clippers with 20 points. Norman Powell started for Leonard and scored 17.

Lue praised the Clippers' defense and effort, but they struggled to rebound and shoot. Before losing Tuesday, the Clippers had won three of four games. Lue stated, “I want us to play like we have the last four games. The Kings led by five at halftime but outscored the Clippers 35-19 in the third. The period saw Sabonis score nine points. Murray's fast-break dunk off a Clippers fumble was one of the third's highlights.

After a turnover, neither Ivica Zubac nor Westbrook joined their teammates on offense, and Murray hesitated before slamming it on Zubac with his right hand to put the Kings up 76-62. Brown said, “Keegan’s starting to get a little wiggle now,” urging the second-year forward to be more aggressive. Sacramento scored the last seven of the quarter, and Alex Len's slam put them up 91-70 heading into the fourth.

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