Los Angeles (10-11) played without Sam Cassell and Corey Maggette in a 105-86 loss to Utah on Wednesday. Cassell was out with an injured left foot and Maggette missed his second straight game due to a bruised left knee and left Achilles’ tendinitis.
“It’s frustrating to face the top team in the league without all your firepower, but if we gave the kind of effort they did, it wouldn’t have mattered,” Los Angeles forward Elton Brand said. “They outhustled us to loose balls, to rebounds, got easy putbacks and easy points.”
While Maggette is not expected to return Friday, Cassell is listed as questionable. That duo has accounted for nearly 29 points per game this season.
Maggette scored 20 points and Cassell added 16 in Los Angeles’ 102-89 home win over Portland on Nov. 6 to run its win streak in this series to five games.
The Clippers have lost three of four overall and are eager to be headed to a building where they won twice last season behind two double-doubles from Brand. Los Angeles, which is 1-7 on the road, had dropped 12 straight visits to Portland (10-14) prior to 2005-06.
“I think finding a way to win against the Blazers is the biggest key,” point guard Shaun Livingston said. “We need to find a way to put a winning streak together.”
Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy agreed to terms on a four-year, $22 million contract extension before Wednesday’s loss, becoming one of the highest-paid coaches in the NBA.
He wasn’t happy afterward, especially since his team allowed 56 points in the paint to the Jazz.
“We just got beasted in the paint,” Dunleavy said. “They’re big and strong at every position, and they out-toughed us.”
One bright spot for the Clippers was Tim Thomas, who had 16 points and seven rebounds in a season-high 41 minutes. Thomas was limited to four minutes two nights earlier in a loss to San Antonio due to a bruised right hand.
Portland has won a season-high three straight games after an 85-79 victory at Memphis on Wednesday. Zach Randolph scored 21 points as the Trail Blazers completed a surprising 4-2 road trip.
“I’m certainly going to play off this road trip and the things we’re doing on the road, about how we played and things we showed on the court,” coach Nate McMillan said. “I’m going to use this trip for direction in the future.”
Randolph was suspended for the game that started the winning streak, a 93-83 win at Toronto on Sunday. He feels he has mended fences with McMillan.
“We’re together now,” Randolph said. “We understand what we have to do to win road games. We have to play the whole 48 (minutes). We’ve got to scrap and get defensive stops.”
The Blazers have dropped six of seven at home after a 3-0 start.