The Trail Blazers three-game winning streak came to an abrupt end after the Clippers ran away with a 117-97 victory. LA’s attack was spearheaded by Paul George and Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers duo combined to go 20-of-27 from the field, allowing coach Doc Rivers’ squad to cruise to a 20-point win.
Before the wheels fell off, Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside put together a strong first half to keep the Blazers within striking distance. All good things come to an end. Here is a look back at the loss that snapped Portland’s three-game streak.
The Clippers’ offense alternated between Kawhi Leonard and Paul George through the first six minutes of action. The duo feasted on Portland’s defense, allowing LA to rush out to an 18-10 advantage. Emerging from a timeout, Damian Lillard went to work, triggering an 8-0 run. Lillard found Hassan Whiteside for finishes at the rim and got his offense working from beyond the arc.
The reserves for both sides failed to maintain the same crisp style of play. The pace increased and both squads combined for seven turnovers. The Blazers managed to stabilize late in the quarter and Carmelo Anthony recovered from a hard foul to give Portland a 30-29 advantage after one.
Melo carried over his late-quarter momentum from the first to record Portland’s first five points. CJ McCollum got into the action by slicing through a welcoming Clippers defense to give the Blazers a 37-33 lead, forcing Doc Rivers to utilize a timeout at the 9:50 mark. Montrezl Harrell answered the call after the brief break with a compact and effective hook shot in the paint.
Fueled by efficient play in the paint, the Clippers worked the ball to the corners after the Blazers’ defense collapsed. That sequence became a painful pattern for a Portland defense that failed to pressure corner shooters throughout the quarter. Summoned for his second shift, George continued to impact the game with flawless shooting from beyond the arc. Due to the aggressive play of Lillard, the Blazers managed to keep pace.
The Clippers headed to the locker room with a 62-59 advantage behind 15 points from George.
Unsurprisingly, George came out firing on all cylinders to start the second half. A quick 7-0 run from the Clippers put the Blazers in a double-digit hole that they would remain in for large portions of the third quarter. Portland’s defensive struggles were compounded by ice-cold shooting from distance. Falling behind, the Blazers connected on just one of their nine three-point attempts.
A decent run from Whiteside kept the contest from getting completely out of control, but the Blazers once again struggled to limit Harrell’s effectiveness in the paint. The Clippers notched 27 points in the quarter and held the Blazers to 17 points—resulting in a 89-76 lead through three quarters.
The Clippers returned to a familiar recipe to start the final period: collapse the defense and find Patrick Patterson from beyond the arc. Whiteside was unable to recapture his offensive magic from the third quarter, resulting in a lopsided exchange through the first five minutes. Down by 22 points, Terry Stotts turned to the bench to steer the game to its conclusion. The Clippers cruised to a 117-97 victory.
Diverse Pick & Roll
The first half of action showcased the potential of Lillard-Whiteside pick-and-roll sets. Whiteside completed two finishes at the rim as the roll man in the first quarter. The Clippers responded in the second quarter with focused attention on the big fella. Without the extra attention, Lillard feasted on the generous amount of space. Even during Portland’s disastrous third quarter, the multi-faceted attack from the first half produced favorable looks for Whiteside as he rolled to the paint.
Finally healthy, Whiteside is engaging in screens more frequently. If that trend continues, it will be a significant addition to the Blazers’ offense. The former Heat center recorded 18 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
The Clippers present a perfect three-pronged attack designed to dismantle the Blazers. On the perimeter, George and Leonard possess mismatch-creating size. Inside, Harrell’s work off the bench presents a nightmare for Portland’s short-staffed frontcourt.
George routinely isolated smaller opponents and connected on wide open attempts from beyond the arc. The Blazers committed to slowing down Leonard, but paid the price when it came to defending his all-star teammate. Nassir Little, who has shown signs of becoming a defensive stopper, was a non-factor due to foul trouble. George connected on six of his seven three-point shots and finished with 25 points.
The Blazers return home to host the Kings on Wednesday.