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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Mar 21, 2024 6:22 pm

Clippers aiming to beat Blazers for ninth straight time

Paul George Kawhi Leonard James Harden

The Los Angeles Clippers will seek to continue their domination of the Portland Trail Blazers when the teams wrap up a two-game set on Friday night in the Pacific Northwest.

Los Angeles has won eight straight games against the Trail Blazers and improved to 3-0 this season with Wednesday night’s 116-103 victory in Portland.

Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden were all solid contributors for the Clippers (43-25) on Wednesday.

George scored 27 points, Leonard tallied 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter and Harden contributed 19 points and 14 assists.

George said it wasn’t the offense that fueled the victory.

“We got really good individuals on the defensive side and we put it together,” George said. “We played good defense, we got stops, we got out and got some easy opportunities.

“Honestly, that’s when we are clicking and at our best — when we don’t have to come against a loaded defense every possession.”

The victory was badly needed for Los Angeles after it lost four of its previous five games. The contest preceding the Portland series was a dreadful 110-93 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue felt fatigue was a problem.

“I’m not a big excuse guy, but I think they’re getting a little worn down,” Lue said after the setback against Atlanta. “But they’ve got to mentally fight through it and it’s going to be tough challenges. We understand the travel, we understand the back-to-backs and all, but we just got to fight through it. That’s not an excuse. … It can be mental, but we just can’t let that seep in.”

Lue’s squad certainly looked fresh against Portland after having two days without a game and was clearly the stronger team in the second half.

Portland (19-50) has dropped four straight games and eight of its past 10.

The Trail Blazers have lost 55, 49 and 50 games (and counting) during Chauncey Billups’ three seasons as coach.

Portland trailed 60-50 at halftime before a sloppy third quarter in which it committed seven turnovers. Its deficit was 94-70 when the period ended.

“It was a lot of turnovers that led to points,” Trail Blazers forward Kris Murray said. “That was the biggest thing. That was kind of all it is.”

Murray scored a career-high 17 points against the Clippers. He has been receiving extended playing time recently with fellow forward Jerami Grant (hamstring) sidelined. Grant could sit out for the eighth time in nine games on Friday.

Portland also has been thin in the backcourt due to lengthy absences of Malcolm Brogdon (elbow) and Shaedon Sharpe (abdominal surgery). And against the Clippers, high-scoring guard Anfernee Simons had just 14 points.

Also, big man Deandre Ayton had just eight points and seven rebounds after recording eight double-doubles over his previous nine appearances.

The Trail Blazers will look for a better result in the back end of the two-game matchup.

“I think there is a lot we can learn from this,” Portland forward Jabari Walker said. The good thing is we have to forget about it and then we get another chance to prove it against the same team.”

–Field Level Media

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