The Clippers flew to Portland after a big win over the San Antonio Spurs last night to face a hungry and talented young Portland team on the second night of a back-to-back. After a pair of miserable home losses to Golden State and Cleveland, and a big win over the Spurs, would the game in Portland prove to be yet another trap game for our dear Clippers? After the emotional victory over the Spurs would the Clips fall flat in the Rose Garden?
Clips come out in the first quarter looking crisp and efficient and jump out by nine. DeAndre Jordan looks particularly good with a couple of nice moves around the basket. Halfway through the second quarter and the Clips are up by eighteen. Two minutes later, Clips up by 25.
The Clips bench outscores the Blazers in the first half 25-8 and the Clips have a 60-39 lead at the break.
In the second half, DeAndre Jordan continues to play with confidence and heady play and the Blazers have no real answer.But this is the NBA and give the Blazer's credit, they don't fold. Late in the third quarter, the Clippers are up by seventeen, but Blazer's rookie point guard Damian Lillard hits a three-ball, DeAndre Jordan picks up his fourth foul, the Clips go dead cold, and the Blazers narrow it to ten. Three pointers by Lillard and Nicolas Batum cuts it to six as Portland finishes the third quarter on a 26-8 run.
With most of their starting unit still in the game, the Blazers cut it to four with seven minutes left in the fourth and it really looks like a game. But the Portland effort dies on the vine. They just don't seem to have the horses to keep it close or get it any closer. The Clips second team plays long into the fourth, gets it back to eight with Jamal Crawford providing key buckets, and finally a rested Chris Paul checks back in. A floater by Crawford, a fifteen footer by Blake Griffin, and Paul, burning time off the clock, hits a pair of jumpers and the Clips are back up by fifteen.
Yawn. Just kidding. Solid win for the Clips.
- DeAndre Jordan. His best game as a pro. 21 points, 8 rebs, and absolutely controlled the paint.
- Blake Griffin. I don't know if he's hurting. He had only 7 points but had two steals, 4 assists, and ten boards in only 21 minutes... other than the points that's a pretty good line.
- The Clippers' bench. The Blazers got it close, but only by playing their starters heavy minutes. Aldridge, Batum, and Lillard all went over forty and Wes Matthews went 37.
- Interestingly, midway through the first quarter, TBS analyst Steve Kerr remarked on Blazer's coach Terry Stott's wisdom in removing rookie sensation Damian Lillard in the late first quarter so that he might get a shot at the opposing teams second tier point guard. That might work against most teams but the Clippers have one Eric Bledsoe, who immediately and repeatedly blew by Lillard. Not that Bledsoe is anywhere near the player that Chris Paul is. But he's quicker and a lot more able than a lot of NBA starters right now.
- Vinny Del Negro seems to be aware that Lamar Odom is out of shape and ineffective. He's relying on a clearly overmatched Ryan Hollins as the third big on the floor. The scariest thing in Clipperland is the fact that the first big off the bench is a journeyman seven-footer who, while energetic and willing, has terrible hands and no offensive game.
- I have to look at the game chart but Blake Griffin sat for at least ten minutes straight at the end of the third and deep into the fourth.
- Jamal Crawford, the Clips leading scorer (he had 25 tonight), is also the only reliable Clipper at the offensive end throughout the second half. I don't know what went wrong with Crawford in Portland last year, but this guy is a burning car off the bench for the Clips. His defense is terrible, but when he's on the floor with the right guys (lately Matt Barnes, Hollins, and Bledsoe) the unit makes up for it with length and speed.
- Portland paid a lot to keep Nicolas Batum, but tonight he was their best player. Along with LaMarcus Aldridge, and Lillard, they've got a nice base. But they desperately need size and depth to get good.
Clips record is 4-2. Box is here. The Atlantic Hawks come into Staples on Sunday for a matinee game. That could be a good one.
For the Portland perspective on the game, be sure to visit Blazer's Edge.
|Final - 11.8.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Los Angeles Clippers||29||31||17||26||103|
|Portland Trail Blazers||22||17||32||19||90|