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|Friday, October 29 @ Golden State
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Time: 7:30 PM
|Sunday, October 31 vs. Dallas
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Time: 12:30 PM
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LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS
|TEAM||Qtr 1||Qtr 2||Qtr 3||Qtr 4||FINAL|
The Voice of the Clippers, Ralph Lawler provides the postgame recap:
Listen here or play below:
|CLIPPERS VS. TRAIL BLAZERS RECAP — Danny Savitzky|
There was a sense of anticipation Wednesday night at Staples Center as the Los Angeles Clippers prepared to play their first game of the 2010-2011 regular season. When Vinny Del Negro sat down for his pregame press conference, all he could say was "Finally." Unfortunately, all the hype that preceded the first game of the season was met with the realization that not everything is perfect, as the Clippers fell 98-88 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
"You wish you had more time, but you just don't. We have a new coaching staff, a lot of new players and terminology, a lot of things to deal with, but that's part of it. I just want the guys to go out there and enjoy the night but also understand what's at stake in terms of our roles and our process and the things we want to do: stay committed, stay together as a team, and grow and get better," Del Negro said.
Eric Gordon led the team with 22 points, and Blake Griffin scored 20 with 14 rebounds. All 5 Blazers starters finished in double figures, and Brandon Roy led the way with 22. He was one of three Blazers to record a double-double on the night.
The Clippers (0-1) came out strong in the first quarter trying to capitalize on the Blazers' (2-0) weary legs from their game Tuesday night against the run-and-gun Suns. As a result, Griffin was at his best. And he certainly did not sell the crowd short on exciting plays.
After he converted his first basket three-and-a-half minutes into the game on a stupendous alley-oop slam from Randy Foye, he followed with a put-back layup and, not long thereafter, a one-handed put-back dunk. Griffin's performance set the tone for a good period offensively, but the Clippers still went into the second quarter down 31-23.
"I was really excited for the most part, but when I got out there I felt relaxed," Griffin said about his first NBA regular-season game.
The second quarter was less energetic as the Clippers moved back into more of a half-court set. While it wasn't quite as solid in terms of thrilling stunts, the quarter was very good to Rasual Butler, who hit all three of his long-range attempts in the quarter and all but one of his four 3-pointers to register 12 points in the period.
Still, after a quiet first, Roy broke out of his offensive slump and torched the Clippers for 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting with Butler primarily assigned to containing him. Nevertheless, by the end of the half, the Clippers had cut into the deficit and at the break trailed by only five, 54-49.
To start the second half, the Clippers weren't getting the same quality looks that were widely available earlier. Accordingly, the Blazers widened the scoring margin throughout the first six minutes. Griffin, Chris Kaman, Baron Davis, and Ryan Gomes shot just a combined 3-12 in the period. But that wasn't the whole story. After a fairly quiet first half, Gordon finally found his stride, connecting on five shots and two free throws to score 12 in the quarter, and the Clippers really gained momentum thanks to his play.
One on particular possession, Griffin grabbed a board and took the ball himself in transition before threading a glorious bounce pass to a cutting Gordon for the slam. As if there was any doubt, the stadium erupted. And all of a sudden, the Clippers had a lead, taking a score of 71-70 into the final period. By the end of it, Griffin already had his first regular-season NBA double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. And Roy didn't log a single point in the quarter thanks to Gordon's stifling defense.
In the fourth quarter, the Clippers surged out to a 80-76 lead, and things were looking good. Shockingly, though, the Trail Blazers struck back with a 15-0 run, and the Clippers could never recover. Along with a number of other factors, the Blazers started using a zone defense to stop the Clippers' production, but Gomes didn't see that as a significant factor in the slump.
"We worked on some things with that zone that they had, and we got some opportunities going to the basket, and we didn't convert. And then sometimes, we had open shots and we missed," he said.
Overall in the second half, Griffin wasn't as dominating as he was in the first.
"I missed some easy shots that I should have made, but that happens," he said. "You are going to have nights like that. It was a sigh of relief that I made it back, but I don't want to make the game any bigger than it is. It's a first game, not a live-or-die situation."
Moving forward, the Clippers are going to rely on better production from Baron Davis and Chris Kaman, who shot a combined 7-for-29 for 16 points. But Davis emphasized that this was an anomaly.
"I was out of sync and [Kaman] was out of sync, but that won't always happen. We did a lot of good things, but there are little things we can do better. Our defense was pretty solid and we had a lot of energy. That is a positive thing," Davis said.
While the excitement of the offseason and preseason came to a sharp halt tonight, it's likely only a temporary blockade; it was the players' first game back, and they played a team that has been together for a long time, and the players know one another very well. But perhaps curbing the expectations isn't such a bad thing. While hopes are high, there wasn't much of a chance that the Clippers were going to finish 82-0. And there's nothing wrong with being 1-1. The Clippers get the chance to make that happen Friday against the Golden State Warriors.
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