Notebook: Clippers 93, Trail Blazers 77



Posted Apr 17, 2013 2:11 AM

Dan Arritt, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Two victories away from clinching home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs, the Clippers didn't miss their chance to overrun the undermanned Trail Blazers. Caron Butler played through a sore right knee and scored a team-high 22 points before joining his fellow starters on the bench in the fourth quarter and they watched the reserves finish off the much-needed 93-77 victory at Staples Center.

QUOTABLE: "We went through a little adversity and we learned a lot form the losses and we're playing good basketball right now, collectively."

-- Butler

THE STAT: The Clippers finished with 30 assists on 37 field goals, led by Chris Paul with 11 helpers. Portland outscored L.A. 20-11 in the fourth quarter to avoid their worst loss to the Clippers in franchise history (20 points).

TURNING POINT: The turning point may have come even before the opening tip, when it was confirmed that Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge and guard Wesley Matthews would miss the game with ankle injuries. Along with forward Nicolas Batum, who was recently shut down for the season with a shoulder injury, the Trail Blazers were without three of their top four scorers. The Clippers, who never trailed in the game, reached their double-digit separation with a 15-0 run in the second quarter and Portland never mounted a challenge. With a game waiting Wednesday night in Sacramento, that gave Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro a chance to pull his starters with a 25-point lead and 13 minutes still remaining.

QUOTABLE II: "We have a big one tomorrow, probably the biggest one of the season. ... We're going to try and close the season out right tomorrow."

-- Clippers guard Jamal Crawford

HOT: Butler, who didn't play the second half of Saturday's crucial win in Memphis, deemed himself fit to play before the game and then went out and shot 9-for-14 from the floor, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range. His 22 points was his highest total since netting 29 against the Jazz on Dec. 30. Clippers forward Blake Griffin was also efficient with his shot, finishing 6-for-9 with 16 points in 27 minutes.

NOT: The Blazers have now lost 12 games in a row, their longest single-season losing streak since 1986. Portland has scored more than 100 points just twice during the losing streak.

GOOD MOVE: When the Clippers seized control in the second quarter, they did it by dominating the offensive glass. They missed 11 shots in the quarter but grabbed eight offensive rebounds. The Trail Blazers, meanwhile, had one offensive rebound on 14 missed shots in the quarter.

BAD MOVE: The injuries to Aldridge and Batum have given forwards Victor Claver and Luke Babbitt a chance to showcase their skills. Claver started his seventh consecutive game but continues to be off the mark with his shooting, finishing 4-for-12 with 11 points. Babbitt reclaimed a spot in the rotation the previous four games and played well the first three before scoring two points on 1-for-7 shooting in Sunday's loss to the Nuggets. He played just six minutes against the Clippers.

NOTABLE: Clippers guard Chauncey Billups returned to the starting lineup after missing the last eight games with a sore groin and 60 games overall this season due to injuries. He missed all five of his field-goal attempts and finished with four points and five assists. ... The Clippers also have a shot at the No. 3 seed in the West if they beat the Kings on Wednesday and Denver loses to the visiting Suns. ... For the second time this season, a spectator made a promotional half-court shot at a Clippers game to win a Dodge Dart.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Wednesday @ Sacramento. For the Trail Blazers, Wednesday vs. Golden State.