The Portland Trail Blazers played admirably against the Los Angeles Clippers Monday, but ultimately were done in by some costly mistakes and clutch play by Chris Paul down the stretch, falling 121--120 at the Staples Center.
It was a close, entertaining and oft-chippy contest throughout, with the Blazers just coming up short behind the Clippers’ experience.
The Blazers were led by C.J. McCollum (25 points, 5 rebounds) and Mason Plumlee’s stat-stuffing explosion (18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks).
With his status in doubt until just minutes before tip-off, Al-Farouq Aminu ended up not only being a go, but making his first start since returning to the rotation last week. The Chief was effective, scoring early, and taking advantage of the Clippers’ general lack of attention towards him.
Blake Griffin was a load throughout most of the half, scoring 18 points to lead Los Angeles as the Blazers fell behind by as much as eight on his jumper midway through the second quarter, but Portland got help by way of its bench and stormed back to take the lead heading into the locker room.
Mason Plumlee added four of his five blocks to the defensive effort, including a swat into the stands on Griffin at the buzzer to preserve a four point lead.
Portland Trail Blazers 60, Los Angeles Clippers 56
After a back-and-forth third period, the Clippers at several times looked to capture momentum during the final frame, but the Blazers kept in spitting distance. L.A. had gained only a five-point lead on Marreese Speights’ long pull up with just over nine minutes remaining before again Portland would come punching back, and again behind its bench.
The Blazers pulled ahead briefly by as much as four on Turner’s dunk at the 6:20 mark, but L.A. would have the last laugh, going on a 13-4 run behind Paul to go ahead for good. Some helter skelter in the last minute led to Portland getting a possession down three points with 11 seconds remaining, but the Clippers were able to foul C.J. McCollum in the backcourt to prevent a three-point attempt, and a pre-inbounds pass foul at the other end of the court just about sealed it. Damian Lillard drilled a desperation three with 1.7 seconds left, but with no more timeouts remaining to advance the ball L.A. was able to ice it.
In the final minute, Evan Turner came to Lillard’s defense against DeAndre Jordan, leading to an exchange that got both players ejected.
Turner, Jordan ejected for this altercation pic.twitter.com/uaq8ty2VsD— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 13, 2016
The Blazers will fly home tonight and hope to get some rest before they host the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night 7:30 p.m. at the Moda Center.
Blazer’s Edge Night 2017
Want to assist us in sending 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring? Check out Blazer’s Edge Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!