The Portland Trail Blazers' 2013-14 season is officially a wrap! Tonight's game was irrelevant before tip-off, as Oklahoma City clinched the second seed, and the Clippers were locked into the third.
Blazers' Coach Terry Stotts played his starters for the entire first quarter, giving the fans a chance to cheer for them one last time before moving to the bench. And unlike the infamous quarter against the Dallas Mavericks, the bench responded, pulling the Blazers ahead by 20 before settling for a 16 point halftime lead. Unfortunately, much like the aforementioned Mavs game, it only took them 5 minutes to give up 17 straight points to the Clippers, and a 27-4 run overall. It would be termed "disastrous" if the game actually mattered.
The Clippers' veterans clearly stepped it up a couple notches and started to care, but Joel Freeland and the Blazers responded, keeping things close through the fourth quarter. Will Barton and former Blazer Jamal Crawford took turns trying to light it up, trading the lead back and forth, building the tension as best they could. As the Blazers led by 3 with two minutes, eternal unsung hero Victor Claver swished a three-pointer to give them an insurmountable six point lead, then followed it up with an offensive rebound and layup. The ESPN announcers raved about sudden-breakout-star Claver, as he led to the Blazers successfully slaying the invincible Clippers bench.
Will Barton led the Blazers in scoring with 23 points, and Robin Lopez had a great stat line (15 points, 9 rebounds with 7 offensive, 7-10 shooting) in limited minutes. He broke the Blazer record for most offensive rebounds in a single season. Joel Freeland returned, and had a solid night with 6 points, 7 rebounds and 2 nice assists. He looked like he wasn't ready for long minutes, but showed good stuff when he was in the game. And of course, Victor Claver is the toast of the town with his fourth quarter run, ending with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
Playoffs, baby! The Blazers kick off the postseason in Houston Sunday night, on TNT at 6:30pm Pacific time. Here is the full schedule:
(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers
Game 1 - Sun April 20, Portland at Houston 8:30PM 9:30PM TNT
Game 2 - Wed April 23, Portland at Houston 8:30PM 9:30PM TNT
Game 3 - Fri April 25, Houston at Portland 7:30PM 10:30PM ESPN
Game 4 - Sun April 27, Houston at Portland 6:30PM 9:30PM TNT
Game 5 * Wed April 30, Portland at Houston TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 2, Houston at Portland TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 4, Portland at Houston TBD TBD TBD
In the meantime, Ben will have more from arena later tonight!
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