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Clippers 96, Trail Blazers 83

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- This time, the Los Angeles Clippers finished what they started.

One night after surrendering the final 10 points of the game in an excruciating loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, the Clippers reversed the result in a 96-83 victory over Portland at sold-out Staples Center.

In the process, the Clippers halted a four-game losing streak despite playing without star guard Chris Paul.

With Paul watching from the bench for the fourth consecutive game due to a right knee bruise, the Clippers put together a consistent 48-minute effort for the first time in more than a week behind All-Star forward Blake Griffin and a consistent attack.

Just as important, they played effectively on defense throughout, and that's been an issue for them as they slumped in Paul's absence.

Griffin, assuming more scoring and passing responsibility with Paul sidelined, scored 23 points, dished out nine assists and grabbed five rebounds in another well-rounded performance.

This time, he had plenty of help on both ends of the court.

Among the starters, Caron Butler added 12 points and Eric Bledsoe had 10. The Clippers' bench played nearly the entire fourth quarter and maintained a double-digit lead. Lamar Odom, in particular, was effective in reserve, contributing eight points, 13 rebounds and six assists.

Meanwhile, there were no big runs left in the Trail Blazers, who seemed to fade in the second half. Portland fell behind by 16 points after three quarters and never challenged the rest of the way.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Portland. Rookie Damian Lillard added 16 points and five assists, and J.J. Hickson had 15 points and nine rebounds.

NOTES: Paul has missed seven of the past nine games, and the Clippers remain unsure when he will return. With a huge trip looming -- the team will play eight games away from Los Angeles as Staples Center prepares for the Grammy Awards -- the Clippers hope to get him back at some point on the trip, although it seems unlikely he'll play at Minnesota or Toronto, the first two stops. ... Paul initially hurt his knee against the Magic on Jan. 12 and sat out the next three games -- all Clippers wins. ... Portland's Nicolas Batum, who registered the first two triple-doubles of his career this week, enjoys playing against the Clippers. He was averaging 21.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists in two meetings against them heading into Sunday's game. Batum had eight points, eight assists and six rebounds Sunday. ... Lillard was shooting 54.6 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range against the Clippers this season before Sunday, when he went 2-for-7 from long range. He is averaging 17.3 points in three games against the Clippers.
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