PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — DeAndre Jordan had 16
points and eight rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers opened the
preseason with an 89-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on
Chris Paul added 15 points and eight
rebounds as new Clippers head coach Doc Rivers got a look at his team
after holding training camp last week in San Diego.
Nicolas Batum, who played for his native
France this summer on the gold-medal winning European Championship
team, led Portland with 12 points.
Blazers guard Damian Lillard, last
season’s NBA rookie of the year, added 11 points and six assists, but
Portland was hampered by the absence of All-Star forward LaMarcus
Aldridge, who was nursing a left quadriceps injury.
Rivers joined the Clippers this summer
when the Celtics agreed to let him out of his contract in exchange for a
first-round draft pick in 2015. Rivers also serves as senior VP of
Rivers joins a talent-laden team that
had a club-record 56 wins and its first Pacific Division championship,
but fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Clippers have 11 new players on
their roster, building around the nucleus of Paul, Jordan and Blake
Griffin. Willie Green and newcomer Jared Dudley rounded out the starting
lineup on Monday night.
The Blazers were also without new guard
Mo Williams because of a sprained right ankle. Williams, a 10-year
veteran, was signed as a free agent in the offseason after spending last
season with the Utah Jazz. Forward Dorell Wright, also acquired this
summer, was given the night off.
Portland’s top draft pick C.J. McCullom
was absent after fracturing his left foot during practice. He will need
surgery and his recovery time isn’t yet known.
Four of the Blazers’ starters return
this season, including Aldridge, Batum, Lillard and Wesley Matthews. The
Blazers added 7-foot center Robin Lopez, acquired in a three-team deal
from New Orleans in the offseason.
Lopez finished with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Paul hit a 19-footer to give the Clippers an early 15-4 lead and Rivers kept his starters in for much of the first quarter.
The Blazers cut the lead to 25-22 on
Lillard’s layup, and evened it on Allen Crabbe’s put-back dunk. After
Antawn Jamison’s jumper for the Clippers, Crabbe hit a 3-pointer that
gave Portland its first lead of the game at 28-27.
But Portland stumbled over its own
mistakes, with 17 first-half turnovers, and Green’s 3-pointer put Los
Angeles back up 43-36. Griffin’s dunk off a steal by Jordan put the
Clippers up 53-20.
Jordan led the Clippers with 14 points and six rebounds at the half.
Griffin’s dunk midway through the third
quarter kept the Clippers in front 66-54. Ryan Hollins hit a layup and a
free throw that gave Los Angeles an 84-66 lead in the fourth.
The Blazers finished 33-49 last season and out of the playoffs for the second straight year.