POSTGAME REPORT: CLIPPERS 103, TRAIL BLAZERS 90 - 11/8/12

PORTLAND – The Clippers started coming on towards the end of the first quarter Thursday night and by the time they let up, their first-half lead at the Rose Garden was a large as 25 points.

The only real problem was that they let up long enough for the Trail Blazers to squeak back into the game. But Portland’s response was tenuous and the Clippers won their second game in as many nights, 103-90.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Blake Griffin said. “We just kept saying, ‘You have to withstand it.’ They started hitting shots. They missed some shots early, so you knew they were going to make up for it. We’ve just got to do a better job when that happens, just slow down, run the offense and not try to force things.”


Difference Maker: DeAndre Jordan. Paul said the team feeds off Jordan’s energy when he’s in the game so much so that they “need him on the court.” Well, for the second straight game Jordan might as well have been a power generator. He set the tone early contesting LaMarcus Aldridge and J.J. Hickson at the rim, scoring his first eight points without dunking, converting his first 3-point play of the season on an emphatic dunk around Meyers Leonard, and showing the overall activity that teammates and coaches have demanded from him.

“I don’t know what kind of votes they get at the end of the season, but to me he might be our most valuable player,” Paul said. “He’s somebody that we need on the court at all times. When he’s going offensively, we go. Defensively, he’s big for us. If you know [Jordan] off the court like we all do he’s like a big teddy bear, so his personality is contagious.”

Turning Point: The middle of the second quarter. The Clippers put together a 22-2 run over a 6:19 span that ballooned the lead 23. Of course, Portland found a way back into the game, but never fully recovered from the offensive blitz in the first half.

Stat Line of the Night: Blake Griffin. For two reasons one of the lowest scoring nights of his Griffin’s career was arguably one of the team’s biggest positives. First, it showed the Clippers are capable of withstanding, or even thriving, when one of their stars does not carry the scoring load. Second, Griffin did almost everything else. He had 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals, and played a role, along with Ronny Turiaf, in holding All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to 7-for-17 shooting.

“Blake doesn’t have to carry the load,” Del Negro said. “What he has to do is carry the leadership. Obviously, he’s a huge part of us and we’re going to go to him when we need to, but other guys can step up. We have good depth and balance.”

More Stats: 

Paul. The superstar point guard seemed intent on taking it to prized rookie Damian Lillard. Paul scored nine points in the first quarter and six in a row in the fourth. He ended the game with 21 points, three steals and six assists. After the game Paul said, “[Lillard] can play. Aggressive, not scared of anything.” The Weber State product countered Paul’s game with 16 points, four assists and three turnovers.

Crawford. Playing his first game in Portland since he was a member of the Blazers last season, Crawford had a game-high 25 points, including 11 of 13 during one stretch for the Clippers.

Nicolas Batum. The long-armed Blazers forward had a team-high 23 points with nine rebounds, five assists, three steals, and valiant effort trying to curtail Paul after he was called upon to guard him the second half.

Hot: Jordan. He was 8-for-10 from the floor with one of his misses coming on a rejection by Aldridge, which he recovered and flipped in with a left-handed bank shot. Jordan also connected on five of his seven free throws, making five in a row. Entering the game Jordan was 0-for-6 from the line on the season. He finished with 21 points and eight rebounds.

Not: Wesley Matthews. The Portland guard went 4-for-12 from the field and a surprising 1-for-3 from the foul line. His last miss came at a juncture in the fourth quarter when the Clippers started reaffirming their grasp on the lead. The free throw would have kept Portland’s deficit at six, but instead Crawford scored on the next possession to make it nine.

Quotables:

On losing lead and how the Clippers withstood Portland’s run:

Del Negro: "Too many jump shots, we were too stagnant offensively, they got out in the open court, they were more aggressive than we were, but then our bench came in. I thought Ronny [Turiaf] gave us good effort, Ryan [Hollins], obviously, Jamal scoring the basketball again, and [Eric Bledsoe] was all over the place.”

On having arguably two of his best career games on consecutive nights:

Jordan: "I can’t get complacent. I’ve got to keep working. We all want to continue to get better.”

On the Clippers bench, which outscored Portland, 45-22:

Ryan Hollins: "If we’re playing against another team’s starters, they should be tired from playing against our starters. If we’re playing against another team’s bench we should be better than their bench. We kind of take that upon ourselves and do our job.”

Notes: The Clippers tied a franchise record scoring more than 100 points in six consecutive games to start a season… Crawford’s 25 points were the most he’s scored in the first game against one of his former teams (Portland, Atlanta, Golden State, New York and Chicago)… Trail Blazers intentionally fouled Jordan and Griffin on separate occasions in the second quarter. They were 2-for-4 on those attempts… It was the first time in Jordan’s career he’s topped 20 points in back-to-back games… After getting out-rebounded in their first four games, the Clippers grabbed more rebounds than their opponent for the second game in a row. They had 44 boards to Portland’s 31... The Clippers had a season-high 56 points in the paint.