Yahoo Sports Minute:

Clippers nearly blow lead but hold off Blazers

The SportsXchange

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Los Angeles Clippers built a Mount Everest-like lead in the first half Thursday night at the Rose Garden.

They wound up needing nearly every bit of that advantage in a 103-90 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Blazers sliced what was once a 24-point deficit to four with seven minutes to go before the visitors regained command to seize their second victory in as many nights.

"We had a letdown, but those guys had a burst of energy," said Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 21 points, six assists and four rebounds. "And this is a tough place to play. I put this as one of the top five toughest places to play in the NBA. That's a credit to them and their fans and how they always play and never stop playing."

Jamal Crawford -- who played for Portland a year ago -- came off the bench to lead the Clippers (4-2) with 25 points on 9-for-17 shooting. Center DeAndre Jordan added 21 points and eight rebounds for Los Angeles, which held a huge advantage in rebounds (44-31) and points in the paint (56-30).

Nicolas Batum scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and also collected nine rebounds and five assists for Portland (2-3). Rookie Damian Lillard, in his first matchup at point guard with Paul, had 16 points and four assists.

Trailing 60-39 at halftime, the Blazers surged in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 77-71 after three quarters. The Blazers, who shot 34.9 percent from the field in the first half, made 12 of 17 shots (70.6 percent) in the quarter.

Batum, who made two of 10 shots in the first half, scored 12 points in the quarter as Portland outscored Los Angeles 32-17.

"Too many jump shots for us in that third quarter," Clipper coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We were too stagnant offensively. (The Blazers) got out in the open court, and they were more aggressive than we were."

Crawford scored the Clippers' first nine points in the fourth quarter to keep the Blazers at bay for a while. However, Portland rookie Meyers Leonard had three dunks in a three-minute span, the third drawing the hosts to within 86-82, but they would get no closer.

"I was pleased with the way we came back in the second half," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "We competed and did a lot of good things.

"But in the first half, we didn't defend, we didn't give much resistance to what (the Clippers) were doing and put ourselves in a hole. The second half was what we need to do every time we're on the court."

The Clippers shot 58.1 percent in the first half and had a 28-15 the rebounding edge before the break. Paul (13 first-half points) and Jordan (12) led the way.

Paul got off early against Lillard, scoring nine points in the first six minutes to stake the Clippers to a 17-15 lead.

Jordan was also too much for the Blazers to handle in the early going, collecting eight points and four rebounds as Los Angeles increased the margin to 26-18 with three minutes left in the first quarter. The Clippers upped the margin to nine before settling for a 29-22 advantage after one.

The Clippers then started a layup drill, scoring four straight at the basket. That sent them off on a 24-8 run that pushed the lead to 53-30 with four minutes left in the second quarter. Los Angeles' advantage peaked at 24 points just before the break.

NOTES: Crawford was greeted by a smattering of boos when he entered the game for the visitors late in the first quarter, and he was jeered often on the night. The 32-year-old veteran opted out of his two-year free agent contract after last season. ... The Clippers won last year's season series 3-1, the first time they ruled the Blazers since the 2006-07 season. ... In Wednesday night's 114-91 win over San Antonio, the Clippers held the Spurs' Big Three -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili -- to a combined 23 points. ... Lillard went into the contest leading the league's rookies in scoring (19.3 points per game) and assists (8.0 per game).

Instantly join a new league.

League type:
Free Yahoo League
League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Aug 28 9:00 am
View Comments (0)