Photo / Cody Sharrett

Blazers Hope To Keep Rolling Versus New-Look Clippers

by Cody Sharrett

Some faces may have changed, but the tense atmosphere between the two sides will still be present Thursday night when the Portland Trail Blazers (3-1) welcome the LA Clippers (3-0) to Moda Center for their first meeting of the 2017-18 season. Portland hasn't beat LA in the regular season since November 2015, but the Trail Blazers notable beat the higher-seeded Clippers, 4-2, to advance to the second round of the playoffs in 2016. 

The Blazers enter Thursday's matchup following a bounceback 103-93 win in Tuesday's home opener against the New Orleans Pelicans. CJ McCollum scored 16 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to lead Portland to its NBA-record 17th consecutive win in a home opener. Damian Lillard added 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Ed Davis notched a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in the victory. 

LA visits Portland undefeated in three games to begin the 2016-17 season. Led by Blake Griffin's 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists, the Clippers beat the Utah Jazz at STAPLES Center on Tuesday to advance to 3-0. 

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The Clippers feature a different look this season following the summer departures of All-Star point guard Chris Paul, three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford and sharpshooter JJ Redick. While the personnel has changed, the Blazers expect the same identity from Doc Rivers' squad led by the frontcourt of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. 

"Their team is completely different, besides the interior," McCollum said at Wednesday's practice. "[Jamal] Crawford’s gone; [Luc-Richard] Mbah a Moute, he’s gone. The dynamic of the team has changed a little, but they’re still good, competitive, well-coached. We expect a good game.

"I’m just happy they don’t have JJ Redick, guarding him and getting hit by illegal screens," he joked.

The Blazers visited LA during the preseason, beating the Clippers 134-106 at STAPLES Center. 

"The first time we played them [in preseason], I was like ‘Man, this is weird playing against them and [Paul] not being there,'" Lillard said. "They’ve had a good start to the year, so it should be a fun game."

Added McCollum: "I watched a few of their games. A lot of Blake Griffin, it’s his team now, he’s running the offense a lot more and kinda dictating who’s getting shots."

Tipoff is slated for 7 pm from Moda Center, with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam providing coverage on NBC Sports Northwest. Scott Lynn and Michael Holton have the call on Rip City Radio 620.