Trail Blazers look to end road woes when they face Clippers
Dec 10, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) points to the crowd during the third quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Clippers won 133-105. (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)
LOS ANGELES — Blowing fourth-quarter leads have cost the Portland Trail Blazers during their current five-game journey.
The Trail Blazers will attempt to end their road woes when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night at Staples Center.
In Saturday's 118-111 defeat to the Indiana Pacers, the Trail Blazers (12-13) gave up an eight-point advantage in the fourth quarter when their offense abandoned them. Portland, which at one point led the Pacers by 20, managed a season-low 13 points in the final quarter while the Pacers scored 28 as the Trail Blazers stumbled to their third consecutive setback.
“This wasn't a normal loss,” said Portland guard CJ McCollum, who finished with 34 points, according to The Oregonian. “We've had a lot of these games we should win, games we're up double digits and they make more plays than us down the stretch, they make more hustle plays. They make aggressive moves toward the basket, they get fouls. They finish the game and we don't.”
Portland, which is 1-3 on the swing, also was unable to finish in back-to-back losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday and Thursday. Against the Grizzlies, the Trail Blazers surrendered a 13-point edge in the fourth.
“Another tough loss,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts told The Oregonian. “That's three games in a row where our offense kind of let us down when we needed it.”
Starting power forward Al-Farouq Aminu sat out the Indiana game with a back contusion. His status for Monday's contest is unknown.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin (sore right knee) is expected to return to face the Blazers. Griffin was held out mainly for precautionary reasons Saturday when the Clippers roasted the New Orleans Pelicans 133-105. The Pelicans played without Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday.
Los Angeles point guard Chris Paul delivered a performance for the ages, scoring 20 points and recording 20 assists with no turnovers. Paul also snatched five rebounds.
That helped the Clippers (17-7) end a two-game losing streak.
“We have to build on this,” said Clippers guard J.J. Redick, who had 16 points against New Orleans. “We are trying to be more consistent. We started the season consistently. We were playing a certain way almost every night and we have to get back to that. We haven't done that the last two weeks and we are more than capable of doing it.”
Los Angeles started the season with a 14-2 mark, but dropped five of seven before pounding the Pelicans. Despite a pair of wins already in hand against the Blazers this season, the Clippers expect a stiffer test Monday.
“The Trail Blazers are a great team,” Redick said. “They beat us last year in the playoffs. If we move the ball like we did (Saturday), I think we are going to score.”
The availability of Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to be determined. Rivers, who started for Griffin against the Pelicans, took a hard shot to the face in the third quarter from New Orleans forward Terrence Jones. Rivers was treated and returned to the game for 46 seconds in the fourth quarter before team officials became concerned the blow had a delayed impact.