Location Changes, Result Stays The Same As Blazers Fall To Clippers

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Portland Trail Blazers returned home Sunday night hoping to get right after going 2-4 on a six-game road trip that saw them lose their four games by an average of 21.5 points. But while the margin of victory might have been smaller Sunday night versus the Clippers, the result was still the same.

Despite leading by as many as 15 points in the second half, the Trail Blazers couldn’t hold off a surprisingly effective Clippers team Sunday night, falling 104-100 in front of a crowd of 19,138 Sunday night at the Moda Center.

“(L.A) picked up the pressure defensively, they started being a little more physical, being a little more disruptive with our offense," said Damian Lillard. "That allowed them to get out. I think they just became the more aggressive team. Sometimes when the first half of a game goes a certain way, I think you take for granted the things that you did to put yourself in that position. I thought we kind of did that tonight, mixed with them coming out and just being more aggressive in the second half."

The Trail Blazers are now 12-8 overall and 7-8 at home this season. They have now lost three games in a row for the first time this season and have lost five of their last seven. Their record after 20 games this season is the same as their record at this point last season.

"Quarter through the season, got a lot of games left to be played, a lot of stuff to figure out for us," said CJ McCollum. "It's going to be a tight race, just like last year, so these are the type of games we have to win."

And in the first half, it seemed like they might do just that. After taking a 28-24 lead after the first 12 minutes, the Trail Blazers hit the Clippers with just enough short runs throughout the second quarter to outscore L.A. 30-21 and take a 58-45 lead into the intermission.

But whether it was due to Jusuf Nurkić sitting out with a right shoulder contusion or reverting back to bad habits that followed them across the country during their recently completed six-game trip, the Blazers were completely unable to stop the Clippers in the third quarter. Portland's lead was gone by the 5:35 mark of the third, and by time the quarter came to a merciful close, the Clippers were up 83-74 thanks to 67 percent shooting.

"The third quarter was extremely disappointing on both ends of the court," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "Obviously you’ve got to give credit a little bit to the Clippers. They got into us in the second half, particularly in that quarter, but we didn’t handle it well. We didn’t make plays we needed to make at either end of the floor and that was the difference in the game."

Portland got the L.A. lead down to four early in the fourth, though L.A. pushed it back to nine midway through the quarter. The Blazers kept chipping away, and finally caught a break with Lillard, who made just one seven threes in the first three quarters, scoring seven-straight to tie the game at 100-100 with just under two minutes to play.

But the Clippers would hold the Blazers scoreless thereafter. The Clippers didn't do much better, but a baseline jumper from Danillo Gallinari with 47.3 seconds to play and two free throws from Patrick Beverley were enough to secure the win for the road side.

"We’re not that team that can just do what we want when we want," said Lillard. "We’ve got to play a certain way and our mind’s got to be in a certain place or you could get beat. We got blown out on the road the last two games and then we drop the first one back home so that’s fragile. It’s a way we’ve got to play and a way we’ve got to be to win games."

TOP PERFORMERS

The Trail Blazers were led by Damian Lillard, who went 12-of-27 from the field and 3-of-13 from three for 30 points to go with six rebounds and four assists in 41 minutes. It was the sixth time this season that Lillard has scored 30-plus points

CJ McCollum went 8-of-21 for 18 points to go with nine rebounds, a season high, and an assist in 36 minutes. Evan Turner was the only other Blazer to score in double figures, putting up a season-high 17 points on 50 percent shooting in 26 minutes. It was the eighth time that Turner has scored in double figures this season.

Meyers Leonard played 24 minutes and finished with nine points and a career-high 16 points to go with three assists. Zach Collins went for nine points, three rebounds, three blocks and two assists before fouling out in 19 minutes.

Jusuf Nurkić played 15 minutes in the first half by did not play in the second due to a right shoulder contusion.

Tobias Harris led all scorers with 24 points on 12-of-22 shooting to go with 11 rebounds for the double-double. Danilo Gallinari added 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander rounded out the starting lineup with 12 points. Montrezl Harrell put up a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds in 31 minutes.

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NOTABLE

• The Trail Blazers outrebounded the Clippers, 58-48, and outscored them in the paint, 54-44.

• Portland shot 8-of-10 from the free throw line (80.0%) while the Clippers were 23-of-34 from the stripe (67.6%).

• The Trail Blazers bench outscored the Clippers reserves, 44-31.

• Portland had 16 second chance points and six fast break points while the Clippers finished with 16 second chance points and eight fast break points.

• The Trail Blazers recorded 18 assists while the Clippers had 15 assists.

• Portland turned the ball over 12 times while the Clippers recorded just four turnovers.

QUOTABLE

"One of those quarters where it's maybe five minutes, seven minutes and it's a bad stretch for us and it kind of snowballs and changes the entire outcome of the game." -- CJ McCollum on Portland's third quarter Sunday night

NEXT UP

The Trail Blazers have two days off before hosting the Magic in the second and final game of the season series after meeting in Orlando earlier this season. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m

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