Clippers come up short in Portland

BY foxsports • January 10, 2012

To their credit, the Los Angeles Clippers showed a great deal of
resilience Tuesday night in Portland. But that will only get you so far
in the NBA.
 
What they do the rest of the week and beyond may be
more important than what they did — or didn't do — against the Portland
Trail Blazers.
 
In their first formidable stretch of games in the
post-lockout season, the Clippers got off to a stumbling start, surging
several times before finally falling to the Trail Blazers. But there's
little time to ruminate about their 105-97 loss at the Rose Garden.
 
Wednesday
night, in their first back-to-back games this season, they face the
daunting Miami Heat at Staples Center. On Saturday night, they share
their home floor with the Lakers.
 
There are no easy marks. It's
quite possible that the Clippers, still in a get-acquainted mode, could
wake up Sunday morning with a 4-5 record.
 
It's equally possible
they could build on their effort against the Blazers, who held on after
LA had closed to within three points, 100-97, with 25 seconds to play.
 
But
in the end, the Clips let the game slip away. And while they finally
out-rebounded an opponent for the first time (39-34), they also had
frequent defensive lapses, giving up far too many uncontested shots and
allowing the Blazers to shoot 51.4 percent.
 
They also started
each half poorly, missing four of their first five shots of the game
while the Blazers made six of seven. In the second half, the Clippers
went more than three minutes before making their first basket.
 
Those
kinds of starts will put a team in a hole, and while the Clippers
fought back throughout the game, they were never able to catch and pass
the Blazers.
 
"We just came out slow in the first half, the first
quarter really, and got down quick," Clippers forward Blake Griffin
told Prime Ticket. "I thought we did a better job fighting back in the
second half but gave up too many uncontested shots."
 
They almost
did it, though. In the final minute, Chauncey Billups hit an
off-balance jumper in the lane and converted a three-point play when he
was fouled by Gerald Wallace. Down by three, the Clippers needed a big
stop on the defensive end.
 
But Griffin fouled Wesley Matthews,
who made both free throws. Then Griffin lost the ball trying to drive
the lane at the Clippers' end and fouled Raymond Felton.
 
"We played hard," coach Vinny Del Negro said. "We did some good things"
 
They
did — but not enough of them. Their best efforts came from Caron
Butler, who scored 20 points for a second consecutive game, and reserve
guard Mo Williams, who came off the bench and added 14.
 
But
Chris Paul got in early foul trouble and was on the bench for several
stretches, and Griffin was held below 20 for the first time this season.

There
won't be much time to dissect the defeat, however. The Heat, who will
surely be in a foul mood after losing to the Golden State Warriors, are
coming to town.


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