The incredible form Chris Paul has been in has kept the Los Angeles Clippers on the right track despite the Blake Griffin injury, but he can’t do things on his own, failing to steer his team to victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, losing 98-93 in overtime to the combined efforts of LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum.
What? No Lillard mentioned here? This wasn’t the best of games for Lillard, shooting just 1-of-13 from the field and scoring 5 points. Chris Paul defended him for most of the game and limited the Blazers’ point guard to just 1-of-7 from the field and four points as his primary defender. Paul himself carried on with his exceptional form of late, scoring 36 points and adding 12 assists, although he also turned the ball over five times.
And it’s rare to see Batum mentioned as one of the heroes for the Blazers this season. His scoring has significantly dropped and his shooting has been appalling, but he’s still a good player. He finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists. He also had a couple of blocks, one of them a huge and crucial one from behind on J.J. Redick during overtime. Batum also had a beautiful alley oop pass to Aldridge and a dagger three, all helping the Blazers create some separation in the final five minutes. Batum either scored or assisted on all 11 points in overtime, improving to 7-of-9 from beyond the arc this season in crunch time while shooting just 28.1% overall from three.
LaMarcus Aldridge was his usual solid self, scoring 29 points although he needed 30 shots to get there, as the Blazers managed to pull through despite shooting just 39.1% from the field. They took advantage of the second chances they managed to create for themselves, scoring 19 points of off 10 offensive rebounds, while the Clippers scored just 6 points on their own nine offensive rebounds, going 2-of-7 from the field in second-chance situations.
Their struggles in the paint (only 24 points) were demonstrated perfectly in the final seconds of the game, as DeAndre Jordan has a chance to put up one more shot but decided to wait and the clock ran out. Chris Paul was shouting in his ear to shoot the damn ball, but maybe it’s hard to reach Jordan because of the height differential. Jordan scored just 6 points in 45 minutes, pulling down an impressive 19 rebounds.
And speaking of rebounds – Lillard had 18. Being 6’3, he is the first player that’s 6’3 or shorter to grab that many rebounds since Fat Lever in 1990, grabbing 22 while playing for the Nuggets. At least one thing worked well for him.