Blazers get clipped in the fourth quarter
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 122, Portland Trail Blazers 117
Wednesday night, Staples Center, 19,175 announced attendance
It was the kind of game Adam Silver had to love. He's the NBA's new commissioner, you know.
And if he didn't love a game with 40 lead changes (along with 18 ties) between two teams that could meet in the conference playoffs, a game that went down to the final seconds, he might want to look at swapping places with, say, your local bowling commissioner.
Not that Portland fans loved Wednesday's game at least not the way it got away from their team at the end.
Down the stretch, the Blazers couldn't match the Clippers' shooting and defense. The result: L.A. pulled even with the Blazers in the NBA West standings both tied with Houston with a key victory in the two teams' final game before the All-Star break.
For the Blazers, there was too much Blake Griffin and too many forced, off-target 3-pointers by the visiting team in the final minute as Portland wasted three solid quarters of offensive execution in a game that was sorely lacking in rim protection by either offensive-minded team.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Clippers are 37-18. The Blazers are 36-17.
Oklahoma City leads the NBA Western Conference at 42-12, which is 3 1/2 games better than San Antonio's 38-15.
The Spurs are two games in front of the Clippers, Blazers and Houston (36-17).
LaMarcus Aldridge, who shot poorly at home in Tuesday's loss to OKC, made 10 of 18 from the floor and led Portland with 25 points.
All four other starters, along with reserve rookie guard CJ McCollum, finished in double figures. Damian Lillard had 21 points, Wesley Matthews 15, Nicolas Batum 13, Robin Lopez 12 and McCollum 11.
For the Clips, Griffin had 36 points and guard Chris Paul came through with 20 points and 12 assists.
Los Angeles outscored Portland in the fourth quarter 30-22. Why? For one thing, the Clippers hit 11 of 20 field-goal attempts, while the Blazers were 7 of 20. Portland had five turnovers in the fourth quarter to the Clippers' two.
The opportunistic Clippers turned 16 Portland turnovers into 20 points. Among the most costly miscues: Lillard fumbled the ball late in the shot clock, and DeAndre Jordan finished a 2-on-1 break with a dunk that put L.A. on top 120-117 with 1:25 to go.
After that, Lillard missed badly on a 3-pointer, Batum failed on two 3s, and Wesley Matthews was off target on another 3 just before the buzzer.
Lillard had six turnovers and Batum five.
It was Portland's first game without backup center Joel Freeland, who could miss four to eight weeks with a sprained right knee.
Meyers Leonard stepped up at the position with eight points and four rebounds in 14 minutes.
The Blazers bench, somewhat predictably, had one of its best scoring games, with McCollum enjoying a decent run, Mo Williams going 27 minutes in his first game back since tending to a family matter, Dorell Wright (more of a shooter than an inside presence) getting the nod for 12 minutes in Freeland's absence and the fatiguing Portland starters having their minutes shrunk a bit by coach Terry Stotts.
But the bench failed to score in the fourth quarter, going a combined 0 for 2 from the field in a total of 10 minutes.
Portland lost despite shooting 51.2 percent from the field. The Clippers made 58.2 percent and had only eight turnovers.
The Blazers return after the All-Star Game to play San Antonio at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Moda Center (CSNNW).