Clip­pers unite to con­quer Port­land

JoongAng Daily - - Front Page - AP

The Los An­ge­les Clip­pers fi­nally got them­selves to­gether.

After five lack­lus­ter games to open the sea­son, in­clud­ing a 17-point loss at Golden State, their of­fense, de­fense and en­ergy came to­gether in a 106-102 vic­tory over the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers on Satur­day.

“We came out this year like we won some­thing last year and ev­ery­one else came out like they got their heart bro­ken,’’ said DeAn­dre Jor­dan, who had 14 re­bounds. “We just needed to get back to what got us to where we were last year.’’

J.J. Redick broke out of a shoot­ing slump with 30 points, and Blake Grif­fin added 23 while play­ing sick. Chris Paul had 22 points and 11 as­sists, and Ja­mal Craw­ford scored 20 points in his first start of the sea­son.

“I’m a pos­i­tive per­son and my glass is al­ways half-full,’’ Redick said. “I knew I would start mak­ing some shots. I never got too dis­cour­aged, but frus­trated for sure.’’

Damian Lil­lard led the Blaz­ers with 25 points. LaMar­cus Aldridge had 21 points and 10 re­bounds, and Robin Lopez scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half.

Another slow start led to the Clip­pers giv­ing up 62 points in the first half, and Grif­fin “looked like he was about to die at half­time,’’ Paul said. “He was laid out in there.’’

“I thought I was [dead],’’ said Grif­fin, who felt nau­seous. “It wasn’t too bad un­til I started run­ning up and down.’’

Clip­pers Coach Doc Rivers tried to take Grif­fin out, and he re­fused.

“With­out him, we don’t win this game,’’ Paul said.

Grif­fin milked what lit­tle en­ergy he had and the Clip­pers ral­lied in the third, when they put to­gether a nice run to leave the game tied at 79 head­ing into the fi­nal quar­ter.

“They came out in the sec­ond half with a lot more en­ergy and were more ac­tive and picked it up and played at a dif­fer­ent level,’’ Lil­lard said. “Redick was the dif­fer­ence. We should have de­fended him tighter but he made it tough on us when he started mak­ing shots.’’

Grif­fin and Redick com­bined to score 15 of the Clip­pers’ first 17 points of the fourth, ex­tend­ing their lead to 96-88. Redick had nine in the key stretch.

“To see J.J. go­ing like that helped every­body,’’ Paul said.

Lil­lard sin­gle-hand­edly kept the Blaz­ers in the game, re­duc­ing their nine-point deficit to two with nine straight points that left them trail­ing 102-100 with just over a minute left.

“We did not move the ball well in the sec­ond half and we got stag­nant,’’ for­mer Clip­per Chris Ka­man said. “It’s frus­trat­ing when you have a team as skilled as we are and we lose like that.’’

Paul was equally hot over the same stretch, scor­ing eight in a row to keep Los An­ge­les ahead 104-100.

“Usu­ally the law of av­er­ages will take over and you make a few,’’ Paul said. “Other than down the stretch when we let Damian make all those buck­ets, our de­fense was pretty good.’’

The Clip­pers caught a break after Lil­lard’s run­ning layup cut Port­land’s lead to two. Paul missed, but Jor­dan swat­ted the ball out to Craw­ford on the perime­ter with 7 seconds left. Aldridge fouled Craw­ford, who made both for a 106-102 lead.

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