NBA

Clippers Make Opening Statement with 114-106 win in Rematch with Trailblazers

Led by Blake Griffin's 27 points, the Los Angeles Clippers took revenge on the Portland Trailblazers, 114-106 in a rematch of the opening round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

Before they take your questions, the Clippers have an opening statement.

Led by Blake Griffin's 27 points, the Los Angeles Clippers took revenge on the Portland Trailblazers, 114-106 in a rematch of the opening round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. 

Just four short months ago, the two teams met in the opening round of the playoffs. Portland dropped the first two games of the series, but Paul broke his right hand and Griffin reinjured his left quadriceps tendon, and without the dynamic duo on the court, the Blazers won the next four to take the series. 

Paul was out to prove a point in the rematch, and he did just that in dramatic fashion leading the Clippers offense with 27 points and 5 assists.

"We just saw the clinic they put on at the 3-point line, so we just tried to make it tough on them and get them inside the line," said Paul.

Before the game, the Clippers were intent to guard the perimeter, holding the Blazers sharpshooters to a poor three-point percentage. 

The strategy worked as Portland made just 4-of-18 shots from beyond the arc. 

Damian Lillard led the Blazers against the Clippers with 29 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late. His layup got the Blazers to 107-102 with 35.9 seconds left but the rally fell short.

"I just think we grew frustrated with the way some things went," Lillard said. "When we're in that situation we've probably got to do a better job of controlling what we can control."

The game was great for fans of the NBA to watch as the back-and-forth battle featured multiple runs by both teams as the two emerging rivals took turns trading punches over the course of a 48-minute slugfest.

After trailing to start the game, Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer that capped a 16-0 run to put the Clippers up 37-27. Griffin's layup extended the lead to 49-38 with less than five minutes left in the first half. Paul made a 3 to end the half and the Clippers led 58-49.

Crawford finished with 15 points and Marresse Speights had 15 points in his Clippers debut off the bench. 

Portland came roaring back and rallied to keep it close throughout the third quarter and Allan Crabbe's jumper made it 76-73, but Speights answered for the Clippers with a 3-pointer. It was tied at 82 going into the fourth quarter.

Things got chippy and the bad blood spilled over in the third quarter as Mason Plumlee and DeAndre Jordan had to be separated after almost coming to blows. Offsetting technical fouls were called on each player.

Raymond Felton put the Clippers ahead 90-84 but they couldn't extend it any further until midway through the quarter when the game got chippy again and Plumlee was assessed a flagrant foul.

"I won't comment on the officiating, but obviously I didn't like some of the calls," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.

That shifted the momentum, and the Clippers went up 95-89. CJ McCollum was called for a flagrant on Jordan, who missed both free throws. J.J. Redick made a 3-pointer that put Los Angeles ahead 98-89.

"When you shoot 40 percent on the road and you have the grit to still win the game, that was pretty cool," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

Three Takeaways:

 1. Emerging Rivalry: After meeting in the 2016 NBA Playoffs, a small rivalry is emerging between these two sure-to-be playoff teams.

2. All Hail The Dame: Portland point guard Damian Lillard was outspoken about the formation of "super teams" in the offseason and is stating a case for NBA MVP this season as he showed off his entire skillset in his team's home opener.

3. They're Still Hacking DJ: Despite a recent change to the NBA rule to avoid off ball fouls and lengthy delays, the Portland Trailblazers hacked the poor free-throw shooting DeAndre Jordan all game long.

Up Next:

Clippers (1-0): Host the Utah Jazz on Sunday night.

Trail Blazers (1-1): At the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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