Clippers-Trail Blazers Preview
The Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers are on a roll
behind Blake Griffin.
The Portland Trail Blazers are just seeking back-to-back wins
for the first time in nearly a month, but are again likely without
their big man.
Griffin and the Clippers look to capitalize on another expected
absence from LaMarcus Aldridge on Thursday night when they try to
beat the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden for the first time in
over three years.
Los Angeles (18-9) leads the Pacific by two games on the rival
Los Angeles Lakers, and has won nine of 12 while averaging 100.5
points – 103.4 in the victories.
Griffin is a big part of the Clippers’ success, leading them
with 21.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. The All-Star forward
has hit his averages over the last 12 games and looking to build on
his 23 points and 15 boards that spurred a 102-84 rout of
Washington on Wednesday.
Los Angeles hasn’t been able to capitalize on some strong
performances from Griffin in Portland (16-14). He’s averaging 19.7
points and 15.0 rebounds in three visits to the Rose Garden, but
they’ve all ended in Clippers defeats. Their losing streak there is
five games dating to a 120-112 double-overtime win on Dec. 12,
The Clippers lost 105-97 there Jan. 10 despite 18 points and 12
boards from Griffin.
Griffin, though, could have his way in the low post since
Aldridge is expected to be out again with a sprained left ankle.
The forward leads Portland with averages of 22.6 points and 8.3
rebounds, and could be back Saturday versus Atlanta.
Until then, the Trail Blazers will try to cope and win
back-to-back contests for the first time since Jan. 23-24. They did
well without the All-Star on Wednesday, getting 24 points from
forward Gerald Wallace and two key free throws from Jamal Crawford
with 44 seconds to play to give Portland a 93-91 victory at Golden
“A win like this can catapult us,” said Crawford, who had 14
points. “We were the aggressors and usually the aggressors
Crawford and Wallace average 14.3 and 14.2 points, respectively,
and will likely be relied upon again. Wallace has totaled 49 points
in two games, and made 8 of 12 field goals to finish with 20 points
against the Clippers on Jan. 10.
Crawford wasn’t as productive in that victory, being held to
nine after averaging 27.0 over his previous three games against
Los Angeles’ Caron Butler, however, is averaging 23.5 points and
8.0 boards over his last four games at Portland, scoring 20 there
last month. The forward has totaled 44 points and 13 boards in his
last two contests.
More contributions from Randy Foye could help the Clippers’ end
their skid at the Rose Garden. The guard scored all 10 of his
points in the fourth quarter Wednesday against his former team,
reaching double digits for the fourth time in five games.
“Foye was outstanding, and we’re going to need that from him,”
guard Chris Paul said. “I’ve known him for years and I used to play
against him when he was in Minnesota. Foye was one of those guys
who used to give us fits because he’s such a good player. I think
at times, he’s better than he thinks he is. So we just need him to
keep getting his confidence.”