By most accounts, the Portland Trail Blazers could have done much worse against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night. Yes, they lost 121-120, but considering that it was their fifth game of a 5-game road trip, in Los Angeles, against a team with a top-5 offense and top-5 defense, with a star point guard that gives Damian Lillard fits, losing by one point is not so bad. Well, okay, it is bad in the sense that all wins and losses count the same at the end of the day, and the Trail Blazers are racking up the latter, but the Trail Blazers also showed that they can hang with the elite; something we had not yet really seen this season.
CJ McCollum and Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 25 relatively easy points and 24 relatively difficult points, respectively. Mason Plumlee had a monster game, tallying 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and five blocks against the imposing Clippers frontcourt. Continuing a positive trend, Evan Turner kept the second unit fluid, finding open teammates and scoring with efficiency. There was a lot to like and, if not for a few lapses toward the end, this might have been a Trail Blazers victory.
Great effort tonight by Blazers on last game of 5-game trip. Up 80-79 with 2:22 left in 3rd at LAC. Trying to avoid 4-game losing streak— Jason Quick (@jwquick) December 13, 2016
The final 18.1 seconds of tonight's @NBA game between the @LAClippers and @trailblazers lasted 24 minutes and 17 seconds.— Timmay (@BedgeTimmay) December 13, 2016
Both teams played hard. Literally. pic.twitter.com/iuAX9nus6u— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 13, 2016
After the game, McCollum seemed unfazed by the tough loss.
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian writes:
The loss wasn't quite as painful for the Blazers (12-14) as the previous three, which were mixed with fourth-quarter meltdowns and late-game offensive woes. But it wasn't a whole heck of a lot better. The Blazers overcame an 11-point deficit to push the Clippers (18-7) to the brink, going toe-to-toe with the third-best team in the Western Conference that has owned them this season.
But in the end, the Clippers delivered the Blazers another dose of heartache.
The Trail Blazers have an opportunity to pick themselves up at home, hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder (15-9) tonight at 7:30 p.m. PST. Although it is the second game of a back-to-back for Portland, it ought to feel good to play in front of the home crowd.