Things haven’t been going according to plan so far for the Los Angeles Clippers, but a 100-94 win on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers with Jamal Crawford doing most of the damage and late might be a chance for the better.
Crawford scored 25 points and sparked the comeback rally from the Clippers including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:55 to take control of the game. Chris Paul scored 23 points and added 10 assists and 6 rebounds. He was only shooting 6-of-18 from the field but was perfect from the free throw line (10-10), hitting all of those shots in the fourth quarter. Blake Griffin was also not very accurate, finishing with 18 points. DeAndre Jordan had another double double, scoring 17 points to go with 18 rebounds.
The Blazers are a very good defensive team this season, one of the best in the NBA. It was their offense that failed them in the loss, especially in the fourth quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 37 points in the game, but only two came in the final quarter. Nicolas Batum didn’t make a single field goal, Damian Lillard didn’t have his usual late-game magic and hit just 5-of-16 from the field. Wesley Matthews was even worse at 3-of-13 with 8 points.
Another key issue was turnovers. The Clippers held on to the ball really well, turning it over just seven times. The Blazers weren’t exactly mistake prone; 12 is a number most teams can live with. But when the offense finds it so difficult to get baskets, mostly settling for contested jumpers and going back to their streak hot & cold ways of last season, losing the battle of turnover margins becomes a lot more meaningful.
Up until now in the West it seemed like Golden State and the rest, with the Clippers a bit too far behind for their own liking. But a win on the road against the Blazers might be a sign that things are heading in the right direction, as up until now big road games were the biggest obstacle between actually contending and simply being involved in the seeding game of the conference. Maybe this win against the second best team in the West is a sign that things are changing for the better.