Clippers rout Blazers 115-95 with 3 double-doubles in Game 1
LOS ANGELES (AP) Blake Griffin is back to his old ferocious self just in time for the playoffs.
Bulling his way to the rim, finding teammates for baskets and dunking with abandon, Griffin proved he has regained his form with his best game yet since returning from a 45-game absence two weeks ago.
He and Chris Paul led the Los Angeles Clippers to a 115-95 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the opener of their first-round playoff series Sunday night.
Paul had 28 points and 11 assists, Griffin added 19 points and 12 rebounds and DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 12 rebounds in a revival of Lob City that had been shuttered while Griffin was out due to injury and suspension. The Clippers are 6-0 with him in the lineup since his comeback.
''I felt really good,'' Griffin said. ''Our offense was really clicking. We were doing the things that we wanted to do and that helps when you're getting easy shots. I got some right at the basket early, so that helps.''
Game 2 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 21 points, while backcourt mate CJ McCollum was held to nine points. They combined to average 45.9 points this season, third-highest by any duo in the NBA. Against the Clippers, they shot a combined 10 of 28.
''We just didn't score the ball,'' Lillard said. ''Usually the things we get to with myself and CJ - ball screen actions, flairs and pin downs - they were pretty disruptive. It was tough to deal with.''
Led by Paul and Griffin, the Clippers were old their flashy selves - dunking, scoring in transition and diving after loose balls. The Blazers never got untracked while shooting under 40 percent for much of the game. Their only lead was by one point in the second quarter of the first postseason meeting between the teams.
''We have to tighten up our defense,'' McCollum said.
The Clippers shot 54 percent and allowed Portland just five second-chance points.
The Clippers outscored Portland 30-13 over both halves to lead 65-48 in the third. Griffin slammed down two dunks over Mason Plumlee early in the quarter, the second on a two-handed jam with Plumlee hanging off Griffin's right side that drew a foul.
''He was explosive,'' Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of Griffin. ''Blake got himself going through the flow of what we were doing. Today was the first day he had great timing.''
Midway through the second quarter, Paul scored 12 of the Clippers' last 15 points to give them a 50-42 lead at the break. Their defense held Portland to seven points over the final 5:50 of the quarter.
Griffin dominated in the first quarter during a 16-7 run that gave the Clippers an eight-point lead, their largest of the first half. He scored eight points, dunking one-handed after knocking down Lillard and getting fouled hard by Plumlee on his way to the basket.
''If he plays like that, we're a great team,'' Jordan said.
There was a mass exodus with the Clippers leading by 18 with 3:14 left in the game.
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The series pits Clippers owner Steve Ballmer against Blazers owner Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft where Ballmer used to be CEO.
''I don't know if an owner can bet, but I'm sure there's a billion-dollar (wager) in there somewhere,'' Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Luc Mbah a Moute guarded McCollum, his assignment in the teams' previous two meetings. Mbah a Moute didn't attempt a shot, had five rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes of chasing the Blazers' guard.
''I don't think (the challenge) is so much him,'' McCollum said. ''They trap a lot of ball screens and switch a lot of ball screens, similar to Golden State. He is a long guy, he is athletic, smart and he did a good job.''
Blazers: Fell to 1-9 at Staples against the Clippers over the last five seasons. ... Have lost Game 1 in seven of their last eight playoff appearances dating to the 2000 Western Conference finals. ... Portland is 3-26 all-time in playoff series when losing Game 1. ... Neil Olshey, president of basketball operations, worked for the Clippers from 2010-12 and was warmly greeted former colleagues before the game.
Clippers: Jordan made 8 of 18 free throws. ... They were 0 for 2 from 3-point range in the first half, a season low for attempts in a half. ... They improved to 8-9 all-time in Game 1 of playoff series.