Blazers need OT to nip Clippers

Kerry Eggers, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Facts of life in the NBA so far this season: The Portland Trail Blazers win close games, and they win games in which they take a lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Trail Blazers did it again Thursday night at the Moda Center, though the Los Angeles Clippers took them to the limit before succumbing 116-112 in overtime.
Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored seven of his team-high 32 points in overtime, and guard Wesley Matthews hit four consecutive free throws over the final 1:05 as the Blazers improved their NBA-best record to 24-5.
Aldridge also grabbed 10 rebounds for the Blazers, who are 14-1 in games decided by 10 points or fewer and 19-0 in games in which they entered the final period with a lead.
"We think we're going to win the game," in tight situations, Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "We don't think we're out of it. Generally, our finishing group is very confident about what we can do at both ends of the court. Offensively, we have a lot of guys who can make shots and make plays, and defensively, we rise to the occasion."
Portland overcame a spectacular performance by guard Chris Paul, who went for 34 points, 16 assists and six steals for the Clippers (20-11).
"Thirty-four, sixteen and six. What do you want me to say about that?" said Portland forward Nicolas Batum, whose 3-point shot with 5.3 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
Aldridge led six Blazers scoring in double figures, a group that included Matthews (19 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Batum (19 points, seven rebounds).
Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin scored a season-high 35 points to go with 11 rebounds, and guard Jamal Crawford added 21 points for the Clippers.
In the extra session, Aldridge's three-point play gave Portland a 104-103 lead with 3:33 left. The teams then exchanged baskets and leads over the next 2 1/2 minutes until Matthews sank two at the line to put the Blazers on top 108-107 with 1:05 to play.
Griffin scored at one end, Aldridge the other to leave the Blazers ahead 110-109. Griffin then missed a driving left-handed layup with 28 seconds remaining, and the Clippers fouled Batum, who made two foul shots with 26.5 ticks left to give Portland a 112-109 advantage.
Griffin scored on a driving dunk two seconds later. Portland guard Damian Lillard was fouled and converted two to make it 114-111 with 20 seconds to go. Crawford made one of two at the line to cut the difference to 114-112 with 13.4 seconds left.
Matthews then knocked down two at the line with 12.7 seconds remaining to put the victory on ice.
"We keep finding ways to win games -- making clutch shots, getting stops," Stotts said. "We make it interesting at times, but that was a terrific game, and I'm glad to get a win."
The Blazers led to 91-80 with 7:39 to play when the Clippers went on an 11-0 tear to draw even with 4:40 remaining.
From there, the teams battled back and forth. Paul sank two jumpers, the second giving Los Angeles a 99-98 advantage with 40.2 seconds remaining. Aldridge's shot at the rim was blocked by Jordan with 30 seconds to play in regulation. Paul then buried a baseline jumper to lift the Clippers in front 101-98 with 9.3 seconds left.
After a timeout, Batum sank an open 3-pointer from the top of the key with 5.3 seconds to go, knotting the score at 101-101. Paul got an open look at a 12-footer to win, but his shot bounced off the rim, and it was on to overtime.
"We gave them that 3 at the end (of regulation)," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "That can't happen. Number one, we should have fouled, and that's on me. We had too much indecision. I always foul. The one time I don't, (the Blazers) score."
NOTES: Portland is 3-0 in overtime games and 14-0 in games in which it led at halftime. ... The Blazers scored 100 or more points for the 16th consecutive games, the first team to do so since the Toronto Raptors went on a 20-game streak in 2010. ... Clippers C DeAndre Jordan fouled out in overtime with 19 rebounds, two short of his season high. ... Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge was listed as a "game-time decision" after having three wisdom teeth removed Sunday. He said he went through the game-day shootaround and then shot during pregame warmups before deciding he could play. Aldridge posted his ninth game of at least 25 points and 10 rebounds, second in the NBA to Minnesota Timberwolves F Kevin Love. ... Aldridge is within 23 points of becoming Portland's sixth 10,000-point career scorer. ... Portland G Mo Williams, who injured a hip late in Saturday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans, played well off the bench. He scored 12 points and handed out eight assists in 24 minutes.

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