In a close, hotly-contested contest, the Portland Trail Blazers held off a spirited Los Angeles Clippers squad, 105-97. If you ever wondered whether the Blazers can hold their own in a very physical contest, this will be example number one.
Every starter scored in double figures, led by Gerald "I love dive bars" Wallace (20 points), plus Wesley "Walking Funny" Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge with 18 points apiece. Marcus Camby finished with a double-double, Raymond Felton added 17 points and 8 assists, and Crawford and Batum played key roles off the bench.
The Blazers built an 8 point lead in the first quarter behind good play from Wallace, Felton and Camby. However, with 4 minutes left, Aldridge picked up his second foul and headed to the bench. Without his presence, the Clippers prospered, taking the lead at the end of the quarter.
The Clippers lead is short-lived, as Wallace returns, Crawford is passing, and Matthews and Batum get hot. Soon, the Blazers have an 11 point lead. Los Angeles pushes back, cutting the lead to 3 point lead. But LaMarcus and Crash return, Wes makes a huge steal from Blake for a dunk, and the Blazers lead by 7 at halftime. Griffin and Paul finish with 4 points in the first half.
The second half starts with some Felton/Camby pick and rolls, helping push the lead to 13. Then, the Clippers get out the chisel. Chip, chip, chip. Soon, the lead is three. But the Blazers keep plastering up the lead up to 10. Then the Clippers chip it back down again. Eventually, they play each other to a standstill, with the Blazers still leading by 7.
Both teams start slow in the fourth quarter. However, momentum slowly swings to the Clippers as they cut the lead to two. But the Blazers say "that's enough", and score the next 7 points, capped by a Felton three as the shot clock expired. The Blazers continued to hold an 8 point lead with a few minutes left, as the Clippers focus on Raymond Felton down the stretch, leading to two turnovers. However, Felton returns the favor with two late steals of his own, and the Blazers hit their free throws to hold on for the win.
Read the box score here, then stay tuned for Dave's recap and Ben's media row report. The Blazers are right back in action tomorrow night, against the Magic. -- Tim