In a repeat of Game 5, the Clippers hung around for three quarters making the Moda Center anxious as Jamal Crawford and a spirited Clippers team were more than game. Unlike Game 5, the Clippers made a game of this one throughout all four quarters. The Clippers missed a last second prayer by Austin Rivers to extend their season and the Blazers advance to the play the Warriors in the semifinals with a 106-103 victory.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard 28 points and 7 assists. The Cippers were led by Jamal Crawford with 32 points.
As expected, the Blazers came out of the gate amped up along with the Moda Center crowd, their first few shots missing strong off the back of the rim. The Clippers came out determined not to lay down and give up on their season, but if things were bad for the Clips before, they got worse when Austin Rivers, with five early points, went down with a little less than seven minutes remaining, blood pouring down near his left eye and nose on an accidental elbow from Al-Farouq Aminu. The Blazers struggled offensively, but after an apparent pep talk from Ty Webb, the Blazers went on 13-3 run thanks in large part to Damain Lillard getting engaged early. LA went on their own mini-run late to close the quarter on a high note, tying the game and ensuring they were not going away without a fight. Lillard had 14 points in the quarter, Mason Plumlee had eight rebounds.
End of First: Portland 24, LA Clippers 24
Like a summer cold, the Clippers continued to hang around. Jamal Crawford kept LA close as the Blazers field goal percentage hovered around less than 40%. Austin River returned to the game near mid-quarter playing the lead role of a partially unwrapped The Mummy from the neck up. Meanwhile, everything went through Jamal Crawford for the Clips, he single handedly kept LA in the game throughout, making amends for last game's sub-par performance. The Blazers didn't seem to know what to do with this Clippers crew and struggled to adjust on both ends of the court. Portland went to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan late in the period, forcing Jordan to throw up a free-throw that missed short the rim by a good two feet, shaming his family. Crawford, 22 points in the half, went bonkers late to keep LA in sync with the Blazers. Lillard scored on Portland's last possession to get a halftime lead, but those hoping for a quick dismantling of the Clippers now have a good idea of how hard it is to close out a playoff series against a non-Houston team.
Halftime: Portland 50, LA Clippers 48
The Clippers gained a five point lead early, forcing many Moda fans to reach for some antacid, but the Blazers responded with an 11-3 run that put Jamal Crawford back in the game for the Clippers who started the quarter on the bench. Aminu and Maurice Harkless starting finding the basket, helping Portland gain back the advantage in points despite Jamal still doing his thing. The story of this quarter, however, was second chance points in favor of the Clippers. The Blazers failed to get multiple defensive rebounds that let to 13 second chance points for the Clips, giving LA a nice boost of confidence entering the fourth. Rivers, who won't be seeing out of his left eye tomorrow, had himself a nice quarter to help the Clips, having 19 for the game thus far.
End of Third: Portland 80, LA Clippers 82
Gerald Henderson gave Portland the lead 83-82 early as Crawford cooled a bit for the Clippers. The Blazers built their biggest lead of the game so far (6 points!) at the mid-way mark as they kept the pressure on the Clippers to keep up. As in Game 5, you could sense that LA was running on fumes. But, again, the Blazers failed to get key defensive rebounds and the Clippers hung around for the entire show this game. Portland held a three point lead with a little less than three minutes remaining. Off a second chance from two missed free throws by Plumlee, CJ McCollum hit a three with 2:16 remaining to up Portland's lead to 6. The Clippers, down two with 40 seconds remaining, put the ball in Jamal's hands who was fouled with 32 seconds remaining and sunk two free throws to tie it. Portland went to McCollum who missed but Plumlee rebounded and was fouled and calmly sank two free throws. With no timeouts, the Clippers went to Crawford who missed a short leaning short jumper that was rebounding again by Plumlee. Plumlee made one of two free throws. Austin Rivers was forced to take a desperation three at the buzzer. He missed. The Blazers survive and move to round two against the Warriors.
The Blazers travel to play the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the second round on Sunday. Tip off is at 12:30 PM. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.