Aldridge hurt, but Blazers beat Clippers
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—The injury bug bit the Portland Trail Blazers again Wednesday night, but they didn’t let it stop them.
Brandon Roy(notes) had 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and the Blazers beat the Los Angeles Clippers 103-99 despite losing LaMarcus Aldridge(notes) to an ankle injury, tying Denver for first place in the Northwest Division.
“This has gone past crazy,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s bad luck, or whatever, to continue to see our guys drop the way that we are. To walk into the locker room and see LaMarcus Aldridge in a boot—not just a swollen ankle—but a boot. It’s a credit to these guys.”
Chris Kaman(notes) had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, and Eric Gordon(notes) added 24 points. Rasual Butler(notes) scored 15 and Baron Davis(notes) had 12 points and 11 assists but shot just 2-of-15. The Clippers have lost three of four.
The short-handed Blazers were dealt another setback when Aldridge sprained his left ankle early in the first quarter and missed the rest of the game. Portland is already without guard-forward Rudy Fernandez(notes) (back) and forwards Travis Outlaw(notes) (left foot) and Nicolas Batum(notes) (shoulder). Centers Joel Przybilla(notes) and Greg Oden(notes) are both out for the season with knee injuries.
“With injuries we are definitely snakebit. There is really no other word for it,” Roy said. “It’s frustrating but the biggest thing is that we are getting our big guys a lot of experience.”
And the Blazers are winning. They have seven victories in their last nine games and they have beaten the Clippers four times in a row and in seven of their last eight meetings. Portland had won four straight before falling 104-93 to Philadelphia on Monday night in the Rose Garden.
The Blazers were awarded a second hardship exemption to expand their roster Wednesday and used it to sign 6-foot-10 forward Shavlik Randolph(notes), who played for Portland last season and two games for Miami earlier this season. The Blazers also waived forward Anthony Tolliver(notes) and assigned guard Patty Mills to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League.
With Portland missing its usual frontline quartet of Oden, Przybilla, Aldridge and Outlaw, the table was set for Kaman to dominate. Along with Toronto’s Chris Bosh(notes), the Clippers center is one of just two players in the league averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds.
He made 12 of 19 field goals and hit key shots in the fourth quarter, but Portland rookies Pendergraph, and Dante Cunningham(notes) (eight points and three rebounds) and 36-year-old Juwan Howard(notes) (10 points and nine rebounds) made him work on both ends of the floor.
“Their second and third guys came in and did a great job of playing basketball tonight,” Kaman said. “We just didn’t execute defensively.”
The Blazers looked poised to run away with the game early in the fourth quarter. Bayless scored seven straight points and Roy added a bucket to give Portland a 12-point lead, but Gordon made two layups and a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 97-90.
Kaman hit a jumper and Butler converted a rebound and put-back to make it 101-97 with 1:19 left. Roy and Kaman traded baskets, but Davis missed a jumper and a long 3-pointer for the Clippers.
The Clippers, who edged Boston 92-90 Sunday for one of their biggest wins of the season, got Marcus Camby(notes) back after he hyperextended his knee Dec. 22 and missed a game. Camby had seven points and 11 rebounds.
After Aldridge left with 5:50 remaining in the first quarter, Portland led 39-30 in the second. The Clippers erased the deficit before halftime, going on a 15-6 run, with three baskets from Al Thornton(notes), to even the score at 45. Roy sliced through the key for a three-point play and Webster hit two free throws to give Portland a 57-48 lead at the break.
“In the first half we spotted them 10 points and you just can’t let that happen,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said.
The Blazers led by 11 early in the third, but Gordon scored eight straight, including back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 69.
NOTES: The Blazers are 21-13. They were 20-14 after 34 games last season and went on to win 54. … The teams will play again Jan. 4 in Los Angeles. …Thornton broke out of a slump, with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. He had been averaging 5.0 points and 4.0 rebounds on 28 percent shooting in his last two games.