Blazers Hold Off Clippers For Third-Straight Victory

by Casey Holdahl
Follow @chold

PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers had five players finish in double figures, with both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum scoring at least 20 points, to defeat the L.A. Clippers 116-105 in front of a crowd of 19,170 Thursday night at the Moda Center.

"It was a grind-it-out kind of game," said Lillard. "I thought our team did a good job at just being present for the entire game. Our bench once again came through, gave us another spark down the stretch. The end of the third, beginning of the fourth, they had a really good stretch, opened up the game a little bit and left it there for us to come close it out. So another team effort.”

The Trail Blazers are now 9-3 overall and 6-2 at home this season. Portland has now won three-straight for the second time this season and improve to 4-1 on their current homestand.

Though they would go build double-digit leads at various points throughout the game, including early in the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers simply weren't able to shake a Clippers team that seemed to answer every run. Portland goes up by nine at the end of the first quarter, L.A. cuts it to three by midway through the second quarter. Al-Farouq hits a three-pointer to put the Trail Blazers up 78-68 with just over five minute to play in the third, the Clippers finish the quarter by outscoring the Blazers 13-6 to cut the lead to three going into the fourth.

"We weren’t getting the cushion that we’d like to have," said Trail Blazers head coach Terru Stotts. "We’d get up and then kind of lose it, get up and lose it. But I liked the way we were able to finish. They put a small shooting lineup out there that was challenging. But we made good plays at the end. It wasn’t, even though we led most of the game, it didn’t feel like we were ever in control of the game."

They came close to pulling away in the fourth quarter after Jusuf Nurkić made two free throws to give Portland their largest lead of the night at 97-85 with just over seven mintues to play in regulation, with the bench once again doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

"(The bench) had a good rhythm and they were able to expand the lead," said Stotts. "I think when the starters came back with seven-something to go, they were able to give us that cushion, that’s important. They’ve done that many times this year where not only do they maintain the lead, sometimes they extend it."

And this time, the Clippers weren't able to push back, thanks in large part to Portland doing a much better job of limiting L.A.'s attempts at the rim in the second half. The Clippers shot better than 50 percent from both the field and from three in the first half, but the Trail Blazers would hold them to to 17-of-44 shooting from the field and 3-of-13 shooting from three in the second half. That improved defense, along with timely three-pointers from Lillard, McCollum and Meyers Leonard helped the Trail Blazers gut out the 11-point victory.

TOP PERFORMERS

Damian Lillard led all scorers with 25 points, despite not shooting a free throw, on 11-of-25 shooting from the field and 3-of-7 shooting from three. The 6-3 guard out of Weber State also added four assists, four rebounds and a steal in 35 minutes.

CJ McCollum followed up a 40-point performance Tuesday night versus the Bucks with 23 points on 8-of-20 shooting, seven rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes.

Jusuf Nurkić finished a rebound short of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds while also blocking three shots before fouling out in 23 minutes.

Al-Farouq Aminu added 11 points and eight rebounds and Zach Collins also came a rebound away from a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.

Both Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams put up 20 points for the Clippers.

LISTEN UP

NOTABLE

• The Trail Blazers had 37 points in the first quarter, marking their highest-scoring first period of the season.

• Portland outrebounded the Clippers, 53-41, including a 14-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

• The Trail Blazers had 20 second chance points to the Clippers 10 second chance points.

• The Trail Blazers held the Clippers to 3-of-13 shooting (23.1%) from the three-point line in the second half. Los Angeles shot 8-of-23 (34.8%) from deep for the game while the Trail Blazers shot 10-of-26 (38.5%) from the three-point line.

• Portland shot 26-of-28 from the foul line (92.9%) while the Clippers were 15-of-20 from the stripe (75.0%).

• Portland recorded a season-low seven turnovers while the Clippers also turned the ball over just seven times.

• The Trail Blazers reserves combined to score 41 points while the Clippers bench scored 43 points.

QUOTABLE

“I think our time together, how good we get along together, our understanding of what our coaches want us to do, our understanding of each other, I think it’s all coming together. The time spent is really counting for us right now.” -- Damian Lillard

NEXT UP

The Trail Blazers finish off a six-game homestand by hosting the Boston Celtics Sunday night in their only trip to the Moda Center this season. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.