Game #4
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
January 1, 2012 | 6:30 PM (PST)
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TEAM Qtr 1 Qtr 2 Qtr 3 Qtr 4 FINAL
17 19 16 36 88
21 23 25 24 93

LOS ANGELES–There was a moment in the Clippers’ 93-88 victory over the Trail Blazers Sunday, Jan. 1 where it looked like Portland was going to find a way to escape Staples Center with their fourth straight win.

Leave it to Chris Paul to take over and seize the moment for his own.

With the Clippers (2-2) clinging to a two-point lead, the All-Star point guard crossed over LaMarcus Aldridge, who had switched to Paul on a screen from DeAndre Jordan, swooped to the rim and made a right-handed layup with 9.3 seconds to go.

The shot helped hold off the Trail Blazers (3-1), who had rallied from a 17-point deficit entering the final quarter. As if that wasn’t enough, Paul tied up Jamal Crawford on a 3-point attempt on the other end and won the ensuing jumpball. Mo Williams, who had 13 points and eight assists off the bench, made one of two free throws to finish off the victory.

“The great players not only can make the shot, but more importantly they can make the play,” Clippers Head Coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Chris can do both and that’s what makes him so special.”

Paul finished with 17 points, including an improbable 3-pointer from the top that banked in as the shot clock expired in the fourth, seven assists and two steals. Power forward Blake Griffin scored a team-high 20 points with 10 rebounds and Caron Butler had 19 and five boards.

The Clippers were again without guard Chauncey Billups, who missed his second-straight game with a sore right groin. Randy Foye started at shooting guard and scored eight points.

Still, L.A. ran out to a nine-point lead midway through the first quarter and unlike their fast starts in San Antonio and Friday against the Bulls, the run was sparked by defense and the requisite alley oop to Jordan, who scored eight points with 11 rebounds.

“I think that [offensive balance] is just a credit to the way we can play,” Foye said. “The ball is hopping. We feed off of Blake and C.P. [Chris Paul]. Blake gets a lot of double teams, it leads to corner threes and C.P. gets a lot of open shots for guys.”

Portland Head Coach Nate McMillan said prior to the game that the Trail Blazers would attempt to defend Griffin as a team, but it resulted in open shots for other players on the floor. Butler may have benefited the most from the attention Griffin received on the offensive end.

In one stretch during the second quarter, Butler scored on three-straight possessions, using an array of moves, including a driving layup, a baseline jumper and a fadeaway.

The game appeared to be over after three quarters. Portland was struggling from the field, making just 35.6% of their shots and opened up a 17-point lead after Williams dribbled down the clock and nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing over 6-foot-9 forward Nicolas Batum.


Crawford, though, nearly singlehandedly mounted the comeback, scoring 13 of his game-high 23 points in the quarter.

“We were digging ourselves in such a whole, we weren’t giving ourselves a chance to win,” Crawford said.

After Crawford’s elbow jumper and free throw cut the Clippers lead to 81-77 with 5:14 to go, the Clippers responded with Paul’s bank shot and pair of Griffin free throws. Portland had one last gasp and when LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 19 points on 9-of-21 shooting, nailed a contested jumper over Jordan with 29 seconds left, Paul iced the game on the next possession.


The win snapped a five-game losing streak in the series for L.A… The Clippers made 19 field goals in the first half, six came on dunks from Jordan, Griffin, or Butler… Portland forward Gerald Wallace failed to score in 30 minutes… Portland outrebounded the Clippers 46-38, although L.A. led in rebounds for most of the first three quarters… The Clippers had a season-high 21 turnovers and were just 15-of-24 from the line. “We missed way too many free throws and turned it over too much, which made it harder on ourselves than it needed to be,” Del Negro said. “But maybe that’s good for us right now.”

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