But the good news: In the second quarter, Damian Lillard broke the Portland Trail Blazers record for three-pointers made in a season, with 182 and counting.
The other good news: The Toronto Raptors won, meaning that the Raptors, Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers all have the same record going into the final day. If that holds through tomorrow, the Blazers could pick as high as 10th in the draft, dependent on the luck of a coin flip.
Eleven seconds. That's how long it took from opening tip to the first Clippers dunk. Despite this ominous start, Will Barton found ways to manufacture some early points, keeping it close halfway through the quarter. The Clippers missed 9 of 10 three-pointers in the quarter, giving the Blazers multiple opportunities. And they sort of took advantage, staying within 4 at the horn.
The second quarter began with more Blazer goodness, as they closed to within one, 30-29 The Blazers didn't score again for 6 minutes, falling behind 45-29. The Clippers certainly defended them well during this stretch, no doubt. But Portland struggled to get any good looks, despite the return of Lillard, who eventually stopped the run with a three-pointer. Claver added a three-pointer, but the Clippers doubled up the Blazers to easily maintain a 17 point halftime lead.
The third quarter began with another Clipper run, this time pushing the lead to 22 with some three-point shooting. It didn't take long for a Blazer comeback, but that was followed by the Caron Butler show, as he hit three-pointer after three-pointer over the hapless Blazers. The good news? The Clipper lead didn't reach 30. The bad news? It was still 25 after three.
The benches emptied for the fourth quarter, and Meyers Leonard found a rebound.
Will Barton had a real nice stretch to start the game, another tantalizing glimpse of his potential. If you wanted to see a Blazer show energy tonight, he was the guy you watched. Unfortunately, you were watching it sandwiched by Clipper dunks. He scored 17 points, with 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.
Damian Lillard spent most of the night in the background, picking his moments to score. When even the prohibitive favorite for Rookie of the Year is clearly playing out the string, you know the season is over. He finished with 12 points and 8 assists.
Meyers Leonard did not have a pretty night. Sure, it's rough when you're taking on a nice front line. But at some point, you'd think he'd get a rebound. And he didn't, until the late fourth quarter against the end of the Clipper bench. This was one of those "lost puppy" nights for Meyers, who has a lot of work to do this offseason. He also had 9 points.
JJ Hickson wasn't a factor. Perhaps it's the nagging injuries, perhaps it's the doldrums of the late season. But it felt like the definition of "phoning it in". If he was floating on the perimeter and got the ball, you knew he was taking a jumper. At one point, Barton actually passed the ball over JJ to make sure it went to Lillard. JJ contributed 7 points and 6 rebounds (three times Meyers' total, in eight less minutes).
Victor Claver's three-pointer was falling well enough to reach double-figures. Otherwise, it was a typical recent Claver game: A few moments of insightful court vision, followed by a period of disappearance. He added 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Joel Freeland enjoyed expanded minutes tonight. And the word "enjoyed" is used very loosely. On the bright side, he actually captured some rebounds. He also had two steals, including one for a breakaway dunk. He reached double figures with 13 points to go along with 6 rebounds, in less minutes than Leonard.
Eric Maynor, Sasha Pavlovic, and Luke Babbitt played minutes, but were even more irrelevant than the guys above.
The sweet, merciful end to this season. And what will be an awesome night for a bunch of kids, regardless of the game's result. This will all happen tomorrow night, at home against the Golden State Warriors. It's a late game, 7:30pm on KGW.
I'm saying all this "the season is finally almost over!" stuff now, but I'll miss the Blazers next week. -- Tim