Five Takeaways: Clippers Hold On, 121-120, For Season Sweep Of Portland
LOS ANGELES – The Clippers (18-7) held off the Trail Blazers (12-14) after a chippy ending to win their second straight game.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 121-120 win.
1) Cavalry returns – Blake Griffin returned after a one-game absence from a sore right knee and Raymond Felton returned after a two-game absence for personal reasons. Both were on the floor in the final minutes Monday night. Felton returned to Los Angeles the morning of the game and, as head coach Doc Rivers said, got there in the nick of time with Austin Rivers (concussion) out for the game. Griffin finished with a team-high 26 points and 12 rebounds and six assists, while Felton added 10 points in 23 minutes.
2) Paul does the little things late – Nursing a one-point lead, it was Chris Paul fighting for a defensive rebound off a Damian Lillard miss with three minutes left, then drilling a 3-pointer at the other end off a DeAndre Jordan tap out. Paul would go on to keep another possession alive on an offensive rebound and later, with a three-point lead and 18 seconds left, it was Paul climbing over everyone to snag a defensive rebound that very likely could’ve ended up an offensive board for a Portland team with 13 of them on the night. The Clippers struggled to corral the loose balls most of the night, but down the stretch, they seemed to be in the right place to win the 50/50 game. Paul picked up where he left off after a 20-point, 20-assist, zero-turnover against New Orleans with seven points and six assists without a turnover in the first quarter. Paul finished the night with 21 points, 14 assists and five rebounds.
3) Second quarter blues – The Clippers jumped out to a 38-27 lead in the first quarter, but it vanished late during a second quarter they’d like to forget about. The Blazers got too many good looks on their way to going 14-for-20 in the quarter, while the Clippers’ ball movement that allowed them to dish out nine assists in the first quarter started to get sticky, as they had just five assists in the second quarter and went 7-for-24 from the floor, giving the Blazers the lead at halftime. The Clippers managed to take that back in the third, leading to a fourth quarter that could’ve gone either way.
4) Clippers hold on in back-and-forth fourth – Early in the fourth, both teams got out on the run in every sense of the word. It was fast-paced, starting with a 7-0 Clippers run sparked by five straight points by Marreese Speights, followed by a 10-0 Portland run with plenty of help from Allen Crabbe. It was entertaining until the final couple minutes, when hacking and stoppages slowed things down. While Portland continued to threaten until the end, the Clippers maintained a one or two possession lead throughout the final few minutes to hold on, even after fumbling multiple inbound passes in the last few seconds.
5) Sweep – The win gave the Clippers a regular season sweep against the Trail Blazers, but not before some tempers flared late between the two playoff competitors. In the fourth quarter alone, there were technical and flagrants, and that was all before the officials went to the monitor with 11 seconds after DeAndre Jordan and Evan Turner got into an exchange. After some bumping, finger-pointing and slapping, both were ejected. Blake Griffin’s bloody lip and eye showed the kind of physical ending to the game, but it ended victoriously.
What’s Next? – The Clippers play in Orlando on Wednesday to start a three-game East Coast road trip.