On a strange night when the Blazers were forced to play without CJ McCollum, who could only watch from the bench due to a clerical error, the Clippers whine and dine on the Trail Blazers. The Clippers won their seventh in a row, thanks to some hot shooting in the first half and some clutch shooting in the fourth quarter, and beat the Blazers 109-98.
The Blazers were led by Mason Pumlee with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists. The Clippers were led by a sheet of paper and Chris Paul with 21 points and 19 assists.
If we learned anything from this game, it would be that it's always important to double check your work. In an odd turn of events, CJ McCollum's name was left off the roster sheet prior to the game and was unable to play when coach Terry Stotts apparently signed off on it. With the Blazers without thier second best player and one of their best offensive weapons, the Clippers were able to focus on a still rusty looking Damian Lillard. Turnovers plagued the Blazers, while DeAndre Jordan was a menace inside with a mixture of rebounding, blocked shots and alley-oops Add to that some very warm shooting by the Clippers and the first period was one unforgettable mishap. The Clippers were all too happy to take advantage of the Blazers' blunder with McCollum and took a commanding lead early.
End of First: Portland 18, L.A. Clippers 31
When Austin Rivers gets hot, and you have a first quarter like Portland did, it may not be be your night. The Clippers hot shooting continued for much of the second, while Portland struggled to make any dents in the Clippers lead. With Lillard continuing to struggle since returning from his injury, there was nobody else on the roster that seemed willing to step up. Chris Paul committed one of his signature flops, one of at least three in the half,with about 4 minutes to go to put the Clippers up by 20.
Halftime: Portland 40, L.A. Clippers 63
The Blazers, who seemed disoriented much of the first half, found some signs of life early in the period. Lillard, looking much more confident with his shot, hit a three to cut the lead to 12 after a beauty of a defensive block on Paul Pierce that led to a step-back three. But J.J. Reddick continues to be a thorn in the Blazers side and hit some big jumpers to end a 13-2 run. Mason Pumlee gets the gold star for the period, almost single handily keeping this one from completely getting away from Portland. While Portland made a push, the Clippers finished strong, with Austin Rivers no less, nailing a jumper to put the Clippers back up by 15.
End of Third: Portland 70, L.A. Clippers 85
The Blazers, despite everything prior, cut lead to single digits with just under 9 minutes to go on a goaltending call against the Clippers that had Doc Rivers hopping mad like someone had just made a clerical error. The Blazers fought hard the entire quarter but the Clippers continued to make big shots after big shots, answering anything the Blazers offered. The one bright spot for Porland was Damian Lillard, who began to look like his old self again, hitting some key three pointers to keep this one in question for a while. The Clippers were able to hold on to the end, sending the Blazers home on a night of what-ifs.
The Blazers are home again Friday to face those downtrodden Golden State Warriors, the first meeting against the defending champs. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Brandon Goldner.