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Trail Blazers sacrifice large lead in loss to Clippers

  1. Written by: KevinHudson  / avg. rating: 5.0

    The Portland Trail Blazers blew an 18-point third-quarter lead to fall 74-71 to the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday, in front of 20,665 at the Rose Garden.

    The Trail Blazers 175th consecutive sellout of their home building was marred by the team's fourth consecutive home loss, the longest such streak in more than five years.

    "They all hurt – because you’re losing games that you have control of. It comes down to getting stops defensively when you have to and then offensively executing your offense," said Portland coach Nate McMillan. "The pressure tonight - I’ll call it a self-destruction again. This was us. It wasn’t the Clippers. This was us not executing down the stretch and winning that fourth quarter."

    Portland (16-15) led by eight points, 60-52, entering the fourth period only to be outscored 22-11 in the final stanza to yield the result.

    "It’s a collapse – a total collapse. You’re up 18 points," Portland guard Jamal Crawford said. "In the fourth quarter it felt like that we started playing like we were playing from behind and we were up. They became the aggressors. We were the aggressors the first three quarters. With that, I think we ran out of gas a little bit. No excuses – but they turned it up, so you tip your hat to them."

    Los Angeles (19-9) got its first basket from Chris Paul with 9:15 to play in the game to pull the Clippers to within four points at 60-56.

    Paul shot 0-of-7 through the first three quarters but would come alive late to score 13 fourth quarter points on 5-of-8 shooting.

    "I don’t know if he was playing possum or if he found the energy in the fourth quarter to keep going, but he definitely took over the game," Crawford said of Paul's performance. "They came out and they definitely established Chris Paul more. He had zero points coming into the fourth quarter and after that, he got aggressive and their team followed."

    The Clippers took the lead 67-66 on Mo Williams' three-pointer with 3:51 to play and a Paul triple made it 70-66 less than a minute later. The lead swelled to five points, the Clippers largest lead of the game, at 72-67 on Paul's 16-foot pull-up jumper with 1:05 to play.

    Wesley Matthews drained an off-balance three to bring the Blazers to within two points with 20 seconds remaining but a 2-of-2 trip to the stripe for Williams was followed by 1-of-2 foul shots and a missed three for Matthews as time expired sealed the final margin.

    Blake Griffin led all scorers with 21 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds for the contests lone double-double. Mo Williams chipped in 17 off the Clippers bench.

    Portland built a 15-point lead in the second quarter which grew to 18 points early in the third based on the hot shooting of Nicolas Batum and Matthews, who combined to score the teams first nine field goals on 9-of-11 shooting.

    Batum scored 17 first half points on 7-of-10 shooting and would go on to score 19 in the contest. He was matched by Crawford, who scored 19 off the Trail Blazers bench while Matthews finished with 16 points, five rebounds and two steals. 

    Portland takes on the Atlanta Hawks Saturday, 7 p.m., at the Rose Garden. The game can be seen locally on Comcast SportsNet and nationally on NBA TV. 750 AM The Game and NBA Audio League Pass will have the play-by-play call.

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